Buoy the population of the soul
Toward their destination before they drown
~ Robert Pinsky
October 2021
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Travel Notes

[1] Watching a mother - a young woman, perhaps, as old as he has become; yes, some people he grew up with are now parents! - trying to manage her two frightfully beautiful daughters, the older one about three, dressed in a tropical patterned frock, and her younger sister, a toddler with new teeth in a baby carriage, trying out her tongue on speech and butter popcorn, he idly muses, given the years of enforced loneliness, which lead to a development of a taste for silence among other things, if he will ever come to the point of bear-hugging his own genetic information?

[2] After a long train journey, approaching the month of succulent June moon, he, who once retreated into a stand of wood, into a forest time every Sabbath, shivers in the rich green glare than envelopes him when he disembarks, many miles away from the spire-d city of stone and sewers.

[3] Years later in an airplane, while being harried across time zones, he distinctly remembers waking up one night in his boyhood to pee, only to overhear a conversation between his father and his father's visiting cousin, carried out in low voices, both lapsing back to their village time.

[4] Some sixty odd miles out of a big American metropolis, he wakes up from a drowsy sleep, his book on the floor of the bus, into a prairie landscape pockmarked by endless pustules of suburban tract houses, each house a Orwellian clone, dreamed up as an infantile version of the American Dream, fit only for the living dead, i.e., "consumers".

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On Landing At Home

So called, or once believed, or hoped for, a fragment from Shakespeare's Macbeth, which he was reading earlier in the night on the flight back, comes to his mouth:

"But here upon this bank and shoal of time, We'd jump the life to come."

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After The Purgatory

that is a US Consular Office: a stuffy holding pen lined with video cameras, decorated with assorted tourist posters for various states of the Union interspersed with a Wild West styled "Justice for Peace - Help Us Hunt The Faces of Global Terror" posters, and the seemingly benevolent countenances of Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice, which grace one half of an end wall (at least they haven't gone down the gigantic Maoist mural path yet), gazing at the petitioners, in which he spends an entire spring morning, he receives again permission to enter Hotel America (of which Hotel California is a small part).

Yet strangely on receiving his stamped passport, he feels disembodied; he feels reluctant to cross the border, for even there, on return, he will be as he is now, a man without ground beneath his feet. He begins to feel that the sequence of hotel rooms in which he sleeps at nights are, perhaps, more appropriate places for his ilk. Such thoughts spiral outwards, and somehow mesh with the lines of a song (by honey voiced Ruthie Foster) he heard, again in transit at an airport few weeks ago:

"Take everything that you gave when things were nice, Take everything if it makes you feel alright. With the distance from what we solidified I can see things that before I tried to hide, 'cuz I am here, and you are there All alone..."

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