On My Son’s Suitcase Mishandled in Tapachula
What does your suitcase contain? Beneath the handle
hides a ritual of things placed with symmetrical care:
t-shirts, socks, belts, a box of pills, underwear,
your high-school Spanish literature book in which
you delicately placed a few fallen leaves between
a poem of Lorca and one by Neruda. It followed
you safely on the first two legs of your trip to Madrid,
and to Mexico-City then, as in a novel by Bolaño,
it became a savage suitcase and left on its own
dreaming new lands, ending at the border with
Guatemala, likely desirous to visit Chiapas.
As in a crime story, when things disappear, we
piece together the clues of our life, sighing over the new
jeans, the perfect razor, the best shaving cream, the
necessary drugs, the black sneakers that are
our trademark, the carefully chosen souvenirs.
One day the suitcase is returned to you with
brand-new tags and a few new scars: a jumble of mixed
stuff seeking order, teaching you that sometimes life falls
into the “lost and found” category. But mostly, that life is
not the necessary or unnecessary things we carry around,
but the great suitcase of our hearts that holds them all and
Was it A Fox or A Dream
standing by my window beneath
the blue moon?
So tiny, sniffing
the air, quivering ears.
You have come to cuddle my
lonesomeness with your light
hair and thick fur.
Welcome to my yard!
You glow in the dark against
the ink firmament – firefly
in furs. Your bright tongue
speaks unknown languages
I yearn to learn.
Alessandra Bava is a poet and a translator. Her work has been published in magazines such as Gargoyle, Plath Profiles, Tinderbox and Waxwing. She is the editor of HerKind, a series dedicated to poetry in translation, for Ensemble. She has recently translated an Anthology of Contemporary British Women Poets.