Somewhere to Paris

I am fascinated by those moments when I feel completely dislocated, displaced, suspended in time and space. Moments when all the familiar landscapes or markers that I define myself by, disappear, and there’s nothing to remind me of just who I think I am. Moments like the one I hoped to capture in this poem while I was on an overnight train somewhere between Florence to Paris.

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The sole cause of a man’s unhappiness
is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

–Pascal, Pensées

The vias of Italy turn to memory with each turn
and clack of the train’s wheels, with every stitch
of track we leave behind, the duomos return again
to my imagination, already imagining Paris–
a fantasy of lights and marble that may end
when the train stops at Gare de l’Est and I step
into the daylight. In this space between cities,
between the dreamed and the dreaming, there is
no map–no legend, no ancient street names
or arrows to follow, no red dot assuring me:
you are here–and no place else. If I don’t know
where I am, then I am only these heartbeats,
my breaths, the mountains rising and falling
like a wave scrolling across the train’s window.
I am alone with the moon on its path, staring
like a blank page, shear and white as the snow
on the peaks echoing back its light. I am this
solitude, never more beautiful, the arc of space
I travel through for a few hours, touching
nothing and keeping nothing, with nothing
to deny the night, the dark pines pointing
to the stars, this life, always moving and still.