The Art of Travel
Don’t bother me now,
I’m climbing the steps of Notre Dame,
swimming through stone,
admiring the backs of gargoyles,
In this elegant hotel,
under the mirrored chandeliers,
everyone is beautiful, and unfamiliar.
Unpacking in my room,
I place my favorite photograph
beside the table lamp I’ve turned just so,
realign the deep, white pillows,
making myself at home,
debasing every miracle.
These—kitchen light, yellow as distance;
rivets in moonlight;
scalloped hinge on a New England door;
swamp, green with heat;
snake, turtle, eye;
man bending over a newspaper;
taken by silence, that netherworld,
weightless as a willow leaf.
The house I grew up in, abandoned for decades,
has taken a mask of lecherous brush and trees.
The dogs of death and pestilence keep me out,
fire shooting from their mouths.
Have I lived this long
only to confront a myth?
Was I not young here?
Did not boys from neighboring farms
Was there not always a cat
purring the sun to sleep in a window?
Touching the wooden gate for reassurance,
I encounter stone.