On Deciding Not to Travel

palmist 2

From the window of the fourth-
floor walk-up, the umbrellas
slid past each other with
assembly-line perfection,
black & blue mingling with
the occasional red, yellow,
lime-green. The street shone
like a mirror that gives
nothing back. The hiss of tires.
This short loop keeps playing
in my head as I watch
the cloud lift & a white moth,
caught out after daybreak,
yawing & veering against
a backdrop of dripping trees.
This summer won’t come again.
Why spend it en route
to somewhere else? I pluck
a snail from the deep grass
& place it on my palm.
It makes a slow circuit
on its single foot.

[Poetry Thursday – dead link]

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20 Replies to “On Deciding Not to Travel”

  1. “This short loop keeps playing
    in my head as I watch
    the cloud lift & a white moth,
    caught out after daybreak,
    yawing & veering against
    a backdrop of dripping trees.”

    Great writing!

  2. Don’t know how autobiographical this is, but I will again say that I envy your rootedness in your place. Nice move with the snail and its own little permanent connection to its house.

  3. Thanks, gautami!

    Brett, this one is quite autobiographical, for what it’s worth.
    its own little permanent connection to its house
    Oh. Right! I knew it fit for a reason.

  4. I particularly like the lines “why spend it en route to somewhere else?” One thing I regret about our coming trip to the UK in September is that I will miss spring in New Zealand. I keep thinking of Housman – “and since to look at things in bloom/fifty springs is little room” (quoting from memory, so it may not be exactly right)

  5. Housman said that? I’ll have to look that up. It’s a sentiment I know all too well, especially during springs like the one we just had where it was cold until late, and then it warmed up and everything bloomed in a rush. If I’d gone away for just two weeks, I’d have missed almost all the action! A month later, I’m still feeling a bit dazed.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  6. “This summer won’t come again.
    Why spend it en route
    to somewhere else? ”

    Indeed. You could substitute life for summer and it would still hold true.

  7. Cool! Love the snail! And great with the poem.

    I went to Paris for a week and spring pretty much came and went while I was away. Well, it wasn’t gone but I missed the grand opening, as it were, which after a long winter is always so exhilarating.

  8. Thanks. FWIW, that was the snail I wrote about.

    I guess you got to see “April in Paris” (or was it May?) but I’m thinking probably the best time to go would be when the other tourists are fewest. November, perhaps?

  9. Like the nothing-back mirror and yawing moth especially. That snail: you have solidified its slowness into some alloy, containing silver.

  10. I ‘m really enjoying the detail of this snail but even better is the subtle color variations in the original palm shot…the life just under the skin’s surface.

  11. marly – I was pleased with myself for finally finding a use for sepia.

    Really, I could’ve ended the poem with the moth and let the photo speak for the rest. I’m uneasy about having such a didactic conclusion.

    qr – Thanks. Yeah, I liked that other photo too, for the reasons you suggest, but I thought the one I included here was aesthetically superior.

  12. Oh, I dunno.

    I like it that the summer’s wayward, quick beauty is embodied by the ghostlike–caught out after daybreak–moth. Then the “spend it” and “en route” take us back to the road and the assembly-line umbrellas, and make another loop or circle before the snail’s slow circle.

    That wouldn’t all be there without a little “saying.”

    “Show, don’t tell” can get to be a fetish.

  13. O.K., I guess you’re right. The thing is, I probably wouldn’t mind this level of didacticism in a poem by someone else. My own thoughts bore me; I know them too well.

  14. As per usual, I’m way behind in my reading. Unfortunately, my net connection is making it next to impossible, but here I am. Wonderful image of the snail. The poem strikes a note with me too – not sure if we will do any wandering off this summer. In part, the feeling of not wanting to miss anything here at the farm… the progression of creatures that I observe and photograph… and the feeling that all travel is just a waste of energy and a source of pollution. We may eventually end up going somewhere, but it seems more likely not.

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