House after house. Every year, closets emptied. Clothes cleaned out, my dolls. Where did Mom take them? Salvation Army? A neighbor's garage sale?
Sandhill cranes, warblers, flycatchers, swallows—all fatten up before the long flight, need to keep those chest muscles strong, keep air moving through the lungs as they leave their summer home for their winter home, following the supply of grasses, seeds, insects. Then back again in spring.
All the places Mom left. As a child, sailing from London to Hong Kong and back. At twenty, from Hong Kong across the Pacific to Seattle, the train to New York, and a year later, back to England on the Queen Mary. And then across the Atlantic to New York again. Alone.
Songbirds return to the same spot year after year. Travel in flocks, rely on their neighbors. Safety in numbers. Those journeys can last twelve thousand miles. Less than half survive the trip.
No aunts or uncles, no grandparents, no cousins around. Town after town, neighborhood after neighborhood, school after school, I was always the new kid, talking funny. And with asthma, as if a hole had been pierced in each lung. Flattened. Easier to pack.
(First published in The Paterson Review, 2018)
So we travel on earth seeking the terrain of Poetry, walking through wilderness and empty landscape or visiting those ancient sites like Dholavira in far-western Gujarat, or Mykenai in the Greek Peloponnese, or the Arawak campsite on eastern Carriacou in the Grenadine Windward Isles, pursuing that authenticity of experience in a form of antique material reality...
These are places, strange and vague situations where death is manifold and thoroughly extant to the careful eye. There are women’s bangles made of shell to be picked up from the saline dust or small copper beads and thin chert blades, or tiny obsidian arrow-heads that can be unhidden and disclosed beneath those bloody grey walls about the Lion Gate, or beautiful indented potsherds and ceramic fragments at the waterline where the Atlantic rolls out its long blue visceral waves...
Kevin McGrath 🐚Yoga of Poetry
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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