CARRIED ON THE SHOULDER
Inspired by “The Traveler”, by Umberto Verdirosi, Orvieto, Italy
I want to ask the traveler what he carries
in the pack slung over his shoulder. No radio
or TV, surely. No hair dryer, not a wardrobe
of fashionable clothes or multiple pairs of shoes.
The bag is too small for a freezer
full of food, a shelf of canned goods, a library
of as-of-yet unread books—all the staples
meant to save us from a stark future.
He has left behind his collection of trinkets.
Fine china, and silver-plate tableware.
What do I lug around that keeps me fixed in place
where I have to dust decorative plates and napkin rings?
Where the furniture has to be moved and swept under?
Why are my shelves full of books I but no longer open
and others I wrongly thought I’d read cover to cover,
books that have to be dusted and rearranged? When
will I toss the heavy load of things from my shoulders?
And what strands of guilt, hurt, and anger
woven into the shroud I carry from year to year,
the shroud I don’t want to leave as my legacy?
When will I unravel fear for the future, unresolved grudges,
insecurity, unsatisfactory relationships, and throw them out?
I will walk with this wanderer and learn his ways,
seek for threads in the colors of forgiveness
and self-acceptance. I will crochet them into a shawl
worthy to be willed to the loved ones I will leave behind.
NOMAD: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I followed the whistle
down the railroad tracks
and out of town.
Every place I live
is a station with a ticket window,
an airport where I pick up
a boarding pass.
Come with me if you will
or I’ll travel alone.
Wilda Morris is happiest when traveling or spending time with her grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren. She is Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago, and a past-president of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Wilda's poems have been published in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications, and have won numerous awards. Her latest book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick, was published by Kelsay Books in 2019. Her blog, wildamorris.blogspot.com, features monthly contests for other poets.
First photograph is of Wilda Morris in Orvieto.