POETRY MONTH – April 16, 2024 – On The Altar









Small enough to fit in a purse
Bookish enough to look like I’m reading
I climb the steps out of the Metro
Mumbling my memorized route
A droit,
Et puis gauche
Rue Gay Lussac
Et puis Rue uh-oh
The street runs off the page
Or into the gutter of the book
So I wander
like it’s what I meant to do
Institution Sourd Muet
Ecole Lavoisier
Rue Ursulines
To a park
A bench
Where I open the book to find
Where am I on the map and
Where I am going which is not
Where I am which is
Not lost.

As a single woman, alone, in a foreign city, long before GPS and blue dots locating me in space and time, I would memorize my route, trying not to look at my bookish map, trying to hide the fact that I was lost because, well, being lost felt like I was the rabbit who’d accidentally hopped into a clearing under a hawk’s nest, until I realized that being lost and looking lost were not the same. Now I often get lost but you would never know it because I’m exactly where I want to be.