Packing to Leave

ImageLimassol, Cyprus. Photograph by Maynard Owen Williams, National Geographic

She ordered a pair of tennis shoes

for walking across the country

one step at a time

cause that’s the only way you get anywhere.

That’s what her grandmother whispered in her ear

when she lay dying in Brigham County Hospital.

But that was when the girl was nine,

and now the moment

was, quite decidedly,

a thing of the past

just like the number of push ups she could do,

and the deep tan lines painted on her back.

Upon leaving,

she always took with her

the sound of her mother’s voice,

the rough feel of her father’s flannel,

her sister’s angular embrace.

She packed too

the sound of ocean against

the edges of a pitched tent by the sea,

brustling cicadas nestled in humid air,

crashing thunder, smokey eyes,

and the fishy smell of the river at dawn.

Maybe they didn’t help her

when packs of wolves followed her through the night,

when her mental paralysis threatened

to get the best of her.

But maybe they did.

Maybe the threads kept her going

until she reached the Altantic that she needed–

the place she needed to find–

before she could go home.

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