Between the Heart & the Land - Amanecer de Mujeres - 7/14/02
There was a shoe store clerk.
I met her while shopping for sensible shoes
that I needed for a trip to the islands.
At the time, 17,
I knew that the secret to traveling light
was packing all in one color,
taking only clothes that matched.
The color I chose was blue.
"Comeback," said the shoe store clerk,
"and show me your pictures."
It's not what she was saying
but how she said it that made me
stop a second at the door, turn
and say, "No."
So much later now I see the thing
she saw in me.
At the time, I was 17,
and I was a suitcase hastily closed,
shut on the hem of a dress,
its edges trailing behind for all the world
Can I go back now and show her my pictures,
still lifes of where I have been?
I am unpacked.
I gave away so many things that didn't fit,
those shoes, those blue clothes. Dead weight.
Ballast to steady a life I don't want to live.
That shoe store clerk, what she saw,
I've taken it out of my suitcase
and put it on,
a fabulous dress
which matches nothing.