2017, Archives, January 2017, The MFA Years

Winter Break

When people ask you where you are from, practice a different answer each time.  Give the name of a region, an adjacent town, the street you last lived on.  Take each place and hold yourself against its light to see where the edges meet.

In January, move the writing desk to the other side of the room.  There is no window there.  Later, you will empty the last of the boxes from August, the ones filled with ephemera: photographs, letters, slips of paper that hold memories of people and places that have never been more distant.  There, you will find the porcelain figurine that belonged to your late grandmother, the one your mother accidentally smashed, then glued back together again, and gave to you when she could no longer stand to look at it.  In this reordered room, set it in the corner of your desk.

Christmas will have come and gone in this new place.  A month ago, you felt the blood of your origins ticking through your veins and wondered how this type of time could pass in a place where it is never cold.  By now, you know how those dates have gone on like all others here: weighted down and humid.  Meanwhile, your family bundles together in another part of the continent.  Know them by their tinny voices chirping through your phone.  

You have a wooden pencil box with the name of your birthplace and its map etched into the lid. Place it next to your laptop.  As you write, consider this juxtaposition, but not so long that the poems change.

Go to the beach in December.  Think of all the people from your life before, zipping up their down jackets and chipping ice off of windows with thick plastic shivs.  Bring a book about the history of the city you just left.  Read 50 pages before you examine the sand. Find, sudden as a wave, all the shells, each cohering to its own Fibonacci sequence, a repeated pattern of numbered beauty.  Fill your pockets.  There must be a place for these; there are still empty spaces to fill in your room.

Now, time has ticked into a new year.  In this one, the place you are now is the only one you’ve ever known.  Draw a line to the farthest distance you’ve traveled so far–the grocery store, the nature preserve–and take comfort in its nearness.  Your apartment now has framed pictures on the wall, an indication that you mean to stay.  Let yourself belong to this place, now, whatever that means.  Let your home be the moment occupied, which is all you’ve ever had after all.    


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