poetic journeys: what i carried

What I Carried

I carried “just in case” scenarios in my
hat, gloves, rain poncho, and extra layers –
to guard against infringements
by unruly weather.

I carried useless things: the camera I thought I’d need
in case my iPhone died. The waterproof
notepad tucked in my turquoise pouch,
where memories wouldn’t be washed away.

I carried my fears in the neon orange
whistle slung over my shoulder — fears
of vicious dogs and lurking men, fears
of losing myself or losing my voice.

I carried respect for my feet in the jar of Vaseline
and the tiny pocketknife with the tiniest of scissors
to cut tape for blisters. Respect for my knees
in a knee sleeve and athletic tape. Respect

for my parched body in the water, sloshing heavily in a bladder
in my day pack. I carried my aching shoulders and bone-tired legs,
my snoring and frequent bathroom breaks, only because
it was impossible to leave them behind.

I carried my flyaway thoughts, my fickle memory,
my mistrust of strangers in the journal I never let out of my sight,
those pages that held close the moments of my days:
joys and sorrows, resentments and frustrations.

I carried my longing and dogged determination in the
Brierley guidebook’s torn-out pages, with their crowded
words, main and alternate routes, elevation maps, kilometers,
pilgrim hostels, cafés, and practical and mystical paths.

I carried my losses: my deceased mother and brother,
my distant and judgmental father, my unreachable son.
I carried my love for them all. I carried my failures, my selfishness,
my anger, intolerance, annoyance and impatience.

I carried my worries in my pack, in my heart, in my mind,
in my insomnia. Even after I rubbed them into a rock and
placed them at the foot of Cruz de Ferro, they stole back in,
thieves of my serenity.

I carried my solitude, guarded it even,
until some stranger’s kindness penetrated it.
I held tightly to my aloofness, even
when it served no purpose.

I carried my awe of coral sunrises, of cows, pigs, sheep and shepherds,
of Vespers and priests that laid their hands on my bowed head.
I carried blessings from those priests and stories shared by fellow pilgrims,
of lives brimming with suffering and hope.

Into churches, I carried my meager faith, sent my prayers – for my adult
children, my friends, my country – into the vortex of pleas from all pilgrims
through a thousand years, converging from naves, aisles, and cloisters and
spiraling into a sky turbulent with prayers.

I carried possibilities: that I could finish, be safe, discover a sense of wonder.
That I could learn to trust that my pilgrim prayers,
given weight in their mingle with a million others, might grow wings,
and just might save me, might save us all.



“POETRY” Invitation:  I invite you to write a poem of any poetic form on your own blog about a particular travel destination.  Or you can write about travel in general. Concentrate on any intention you set for your poetry.

In this case, my intention was to write a poem about the things I carried on my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

You can either set your own poetic intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: poetry.  (This page is a work in process).  You can also include photos, of course.

Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, January 31 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, February 1, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, on the first Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!