The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled
Like many folk, when first I saddled a rucksack,
feeling its weight on my back –
the way my spine
curved under it like a meridian –
I thought: Yes. This is how
to live. On the beaten track, the sherpa pass, between Krakow
and Zagreb, or the Siberian white
cells of scattered airports;
it came clear as over a tannoy
that in restlessness, in anony
was some kind of destiny.
So whether it was the scare stories about Larium
– the threats of delirium
and baldness – that led me, not to a Western Union
wiring money with six words of Lithuanian,
but to this post office with a handful of bills
or a giro; and why, if I’m stuffing smalls
hastily into a holdall, I am less likely
to be catching a greyhound from Madison to Milwaukee
than to be doing some overdue laundry
is really beyond me.
when, during routine evictions, I discover
alien pants, cinema stubs, the throwaway
comment – on a postit- or a tiny stowaway
pressed flower amid bottom drawers,
I know these are my souvenirs
and, from these crushed valentines, this unravelled
sports sock, that the furthest distances I’ve travelled
have been those between people. And what survives
of holidaying briefly in their lives.
from These Days (Jonathan Cape, 2004), © Leontia Flynn 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.