Poem: The Last Exhibit

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The Last Exhibit

The little room in the museum evokes another century,
a different way of traveling.
Pith helmets and golf clubs.
Old hardback suitcase trimmed in leather
on a small stand in the corner of the room.
It’s a small room. Far smaller than hotels today.
Evening clothes hang in a hook on the wall.

You stand and wonder
where they were going? How they got here
on this elegant steamboat on the Northern lakes.
What did they do
and how in the world they could afford
the time for a slow journey to where ever.

It stirs a part of you kept hidden,
a wanderlust that is half adventure,
half escape, a need to be almost anonymous,
to travel in unsafe places where you feel most safe,
far more so than in the stability of home and roots.

You understand where the damage comes from,
this strange sense of what is safe and what is not.
You understand it and fight the impulse
to simply disappear into the night again and again.
It is unhealthy. You know this. You’ve experienced it.
But the child in you always wants to run away
before heaven becomes hell.

You sigh. A museum-goer. A tourist.
Letting your childhood wash over you a moment
and feeling it all, the museum far more evocative
than it meant to be.
It is late in the day. The last exhibit.
Time to go home.

About this poem

Some days, when there is time, I just write until I finally get to something meaty. Some days that takes one poem. Other days it takes a few. I am not completely sure where this one came from, but when I was done, I felt properly emptied.

Like my other two poems today, the photograph was taken on the steamboat Ticonderoga at the Shelburn Museum.


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