In a rubberized bag …

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There is a theme emerging – travel, wandering, musing, poems – scattered thoughts and images – best summed up as luggage and overflowing baggage. And I am reminded of Journeys of Simplicity, a (very) charming book by Philip Harnden, noting the packing lists of different travellers on their journeys e.g. John Muir, a Civil War activist, on his thousand mile walk to the Gulf in the late 1800s, packed lightly. I am not known for this!

    In a rubberized bag   

    comb / brush /  towel /  soap

    change of undercothing / copy of Burn’s poems

    Milton’s paradise Lost /  Wood’s Botany  /  small New Testament

     journal /  map / a plant press

Now that is light – though I wonder if he should have packed a copy of ‘When there is no doctor, or dentist’! He travels light but not as light as those among us who wish to live like a leaf on the water. Philip says that, only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. I may need to ditch upwards of 20 kilos from my bag.

A wandering poet

 

The Korean poet Ko Un writes, everything outside my door/ is my teacher.

The force of poetry is a mystery; allowing words to dance lightly, acting as a poultice drawing out the depth and collision of my life. Everyday I need to make sense of the multitude of experiences and story.  I have been writing poems for years, under-estimating their power and healing quality. Poems come from the deep. Poems always surprise. Poetry breaks up and puts my life back together.

Poetry plays a special role in my writing life. My narrative skims across the surface; my poetry dives deep. It pulls me up and takes me away from the shore. Poetry taught me ontology before I knew it had a name. Poetry, you are my oars, my bark canoe as I lose sight of the shore.

What the poem translates, wrote Philippe Lacou-Labarthe, I propose we call experience, on condition that this word be taken literally … from Latin, experiri: the risky crossing … and this is why one can refer, strictly speaking, to a poetic existence.

 

 

The road is made by walking

 

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Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more;

wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.

By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees

the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road

Only wakes upon the sea.

By Antonio Machado and with a warm nod to Paulo Freire.