At the Travel Agency, I Find

myself parceling thoughts into paragraphs

to be mailed, as if he had already left.

 

One: after three flights of stairs,

how could he have guessed which

was the right room, there being no sign

on the door?

Two: his sense of direction

has nothing to do with the compass-

shaped lighter in his pocket, yet another

contrivance.

Three: white squares

on walls where maps must have hung,

tour brochures still on monobloc chairs,

steel cabinets perched on trolleys,

all make up one story: even this place

is in the process of moving.

(A traveling

travel agency, like a garage sale

in a real garage.)

I think of a neighbor

who parked her car out on the curb

while strangers rifled through silverware

and books, furniture and shirts: a houseful

of detritus in the driveway, selling for less

than their worth.

She looked on with resolve

(or was it nonchalance?), her eyes saying:

No room for baggage; I am bartering

my heart for another life.

And now he

who is neither neighbor nor stranger to me—

what would he say in this, my story

of the last errand?

(That he has been

a tourist all this time? That his hunger

for border-jumping is insatiable?)

I sit at the edge

of my chair, waiting for—there it flickers,

as an agent hands him his plane ticket—

 

 

the look of a child asking if it is all right

to leave, as if permission were mine

to give.

I watch the agent reading,

taking forever to turn the page. I want to ask

where the maps are, to see the red dots—

like the lit ends of cigarettes—in place

of the cities we love.

Instead, I make my knuckles

crack a code into the air: Leave already,

so you can write to me. I need

to read your version of this story.

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