Poetry

What to Pack

Well, first, obviously, you pack your Life. So in it goes.

Funny how you discover it is the one thing you really want.

Or perhaps you could tuck it under one arm as you sprint

away from the firefront or dive headfirst into the bunker.

Then those you love. Maybe you are the kind of people

who pack them first but alas I have found out I am not.

I’m a Me First sort of girl. It’s not pretty but it’s true.

So those that I love, you know who you are,

into the suitcase which is all that I can carry.

And if I can carry just a little more, a few that are running

down the road screaming. If I can I’ll scoop them up. I’m sorry.

There’s only room for a few. And the neighbour’s ginger cat.

Now we have gone beyond necessity into what we want to still possess

once it is all over. The husband and I had deep and meaningfuls en passant

about his baby photo, in a hand-smocked blouson affair, and my Parker pen.

I had given all my back up discs in a vast Tupperware container to my daughter.

All the grand projects that are never going to be written but that I can’t let go of.

So I was cool about that. All my grand projects. Safe.

But I don’t want to appear on Channel 10 saying—What I stand up in.

So often it is shorts and the shoe kind of thongs. I packed my good underwear.

I had made a score at a sale—wonderful underwear—pink and ivory and black.

Me tucked away all lovely in labels—with underwires. I packed all that.

And the photo of the children, all grave with sullen lower lips,

the gorgeous pale blue raincoat from Hong Kong,

the knitting with the German needles for the long hours in the shelter,

a lip salve and my happy pills and a hairbrush and my denture glue,

and I ought to add a book that I really want to read.

At last I get a chance at Proust.

And then it is all over and you unpack. Maybe you smile at one strange artefact.

A rusty bottletop. A 30th birthday present from a cat. Don’t ask. Or something

even stranger and why you wanted it you forget.

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