unburdening (a poem)
27 january 2006
let's be clear:
you started this journey
back when the world was new
from a town
somewhere in the middle
of the middle (& it made sense)
with a few simple things
rolled up in a cloth
tied to a stick
or swept into a small bag.
from then 'til now
the mystery of accumulation
is unfathomable --
a pair of socks picked up in a dark city,
some brightly illustrated comic books highlighting
the existential crisis & lack of superheroes in the modern world,
two piles of dirty clothes left over from a relationship gone sour,
an anonymous phone number scrawled on a card, saying "call me!"
where did all this stuff come from?
how did it all get to seem so important?
(how did it all get so heavy?)
& why are you still carrying all the tears of the past,
into such foreign & unknown territory
as the future?
when you meet people in your travels,
quite a number of them
are fresh to the business of journeying,
& as such, are completely unencumbered,
skipping blithely along,
humming about wizards.
they're the ones who look at you
open-faced in their non-comprehension
& curious in their pity.
(they travel lighter these days.)
they see you struggling, panting,
limping, folding over & near the crumpling point
as you stagger along under the weight
of all that baggage
& wonder, innocently, whether
you really need all those crates on your back
why you're still clutching
in one hand
some photos of parents & grandparents,
those sepia people
who suffered their own voyaging pains
& walked many roads (some dead-end streets)
before you were ever born.
it's a question to ponder, isn't it?
they had, after all, their own luggage,
their own homes full of furniture
& bitter disappointments, dust, cheer,
memories of what-might-have-been,
& matching sets of utensils & dreams...
what's theirs was theirs.
what's yours isn't theirs
(so why do you persist
in adding their cobwebby crap
& old twisted forks to your own bags?)
& it's clear to an outsider,
a fool, a joker, a wanderer who should, by rights,
be carrying three houses, nine lives
& many children on her back,
in addition to the sorrows of the world,
that even what's yours isn't yours.
the easiest thing in the world to see
when another person is struggling
to carry an unbearable load
all burdens should simply be put down
by the side of the road -- now! --
while you rest
for a while.
is more important
than your stuff.)
later, when it's time to move on
& keep walking
you can simply
leave what you dropped
on the ground behind you.
trust that the right hands
guided by an Unseen Traveler
will come along
& pick up those troubles
to dispose of them properly.
one more thing:
when you can hardly recall
what all that clutter even looked like,