Packing for the Trip

First things first: I am not a poet. As I mentioned in my last post, my writerly sensibilities are suited to essays, and that’s where I’ve long staked my claim.

If I were to pursue poetry again, I suspect the results would best be characterized using the term my dad used for his writing, which was mostly scribbled in bars on cocktail napkins: ditties.

Seven or eight years ago the nugget for this ditty announced itself in my brain. This hadn’t happened to me in decades, but I followed the impulse as far as it led. Since I mentioned poetry not so long ago, and because the theme of travel is relevant for many of us in these summer months, I offer you…



The trip is getting closer:
It’s almost time to start packing.

I don’t like to do it too early
because you never know if you’ll need an item before you go
and I hate to try to find something once it’s already packed.

You only need a few good metaphors
because they’re so good for layering.
I like to take one or two heavy ones
and a couple that are lighter.
I try to make sure they’ll coordinate
in case I need to use more than one at a time.

Metaphors pair well with images, too, and I like to take quite a few of those.
They’re tricky to fold, but I have a pretty good system
and I can get a lot of them in a small amount of space.
If you don’t choose carefully, though, you’ll take ones
that aren’t suited for where you’re going
and you’ll have to haul them home
without using them, which always seems a waste.

I sometimes slip in some synesthesia
because it’s fun to have on hand,
and a cliché or two—
I know they’re out of style,
but they’re just so convenient.

The analogies are hard to decide on
because I use them all the time
and tend to get sick of them before I get back home.
I try to make sure they’re sturdy, because of that,
and comfortable.

I don’t take characters at all;
they’re delicate and hard to fold and heavy.
I once forgot one in a hotel
and you can’t imagine the hassles that caused.



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2 Responses to Packing for the Trip

  1. Since you can do this well with poetry, perhaps you need to rethink that specialty. As you know, my preferred form is nonfiction, essay. But poems give me the option to say the same thing in fewer words.

    • Andrea Jones says:

      Linda, thank you for the encouragement. I am loathe to give up my habitual long-windedness, but evidently there’s a subconscious current running through my brain right now suggesting that I could consider diversifying into brevity.

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