From FOOTNOTE 1: “Place … traveling”

by A. Jay Adler on August 31, 2015

(I thought I might offer here, complete, one of my ten works of poetry, essay, creative nonfiction and documentary journalism in the inaugural issue of Footnote. When I travel, every moment is a flight in the weightlessness of the journey, against the gravity of destinations and origins and belonging.)

Place
traveling

It’s a road, behind and before. I wander it like dust
with wind for a will.

Arizona, now, ranges over mountain and pass
desert brush and Geronimo’s ghost for, once
a watchful youth

while Los Angeles is leaving, spinner and lure
for a hungry eye, hooked, but never caught.
They’re soft winds over those ocean dreams. They blow
they blow.

Soon Oklahoma, the South, Virginia
Michigan, the Northern Plains: the sweep and particular
of country and tale – also a vision. Deep breath and sigh, wide-eyed
I have seen this meadow, that rock, timber of a home long ago
I had always imagined.

Budapest, too, and Buenos Aires, and Asian jungle
whose river snakes to a mountain source, the hidden life
from early springs. Sought a seed, too, where my father
sprang from Galicia, a cold and foreign soil in which to germinate
a Jew. How far, then, back to ramble home? Be gusted over Sinai sands?
Gather in the Great Rift Valley?

Where I come from, every feeling calls a name, every
name a habitation, a place of birth, and all my destinations merge
into me. When the Dutch first spied Manhattan’s breast, and paid
with all the rich corruptions of the heart for every generation crossing
Brooklyn ferry, they opened up a harbor, carried human cargo
the city still unloads. Hudson wandered, too, up Mahicanittuk River
and never arrived beyond it.

AJA


For the remainder of my feature and all of the fine work by many authors at various stages of being given up to history, order your copy of Footnote: a Literary Journal of History.

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