As soon as I left, I wanted to arrive. As soon as I arrived, I wanted to leave.
The constant lure of home is a stone
you might find
anywhere, a shell
you pry from the sand again and again.
Strata of memory –
a yellow stripe –
keep us fixed
to the center of the road.
I have no way of knowing
if the pictures are true:
it’s shadow that bends their eyes
to sorrow, merely a matter
of taking them down
from the wall.
Don’t we all hang ourselves against
the beveled edge of what history
we’ll admit to sharing?
It’s why I spent hours tucked inside
the slats of a viewfinder, why
for years you were two figures,
At each border we stop, photograph
press our palms to the air
as though we might cull from each state
its essence: steel-gray Mississippi twilight,
distended blue belly of Texas, furrowed
brow of the Pacific: each snap
of the lens a piece of the map
we follow. We learn how the body, left
sitting too long, aches for what’s left behind, refuses
to give up its backward glance in the mirror,
certain there’s something missing.
In the end the map
is not the territory. We drift
to turn-off, admit
we’re glad to be lost – shuffling
between the clear precision
of the odometer and the ragged pull
of the tide, each wave
a dissipating gesture. Caught in the slow motion
of arrivals, the proximity
of departure, we struggle inland
like the man in the kayak, who
despite the drift and pull of the tide,
keeps making for what he spies
in the distance, the line, the horizon
that marks where he begins.