Wanderlost

Ian C. Smith

Travelling over my mind’s map covering old territory through an aria of beloved past places, young voices crying out, murmurs of lost years unnerving this stranded survivor, witness to electric moments, the elusive ache of things; the transit lounge before my first flight over ancient oceans, tremor of the machine’s muted howl taxiing towards glass, I plunge into smoky landscapes, step through a doorway in slanting light revealing a dreamlike dark bar, old scarred tables.

I moved on, stopped, moved on, lit occasional fires, slept on weathered wharfs, anticipating looming ferries impaling the silence of mists. My shore littered with departure, love’s blind alleys, the chiaroscuro of storms building, memories of cycling through sea spray in Viking isles north of Scotland long ago, vie with other road trips for attention like flags flapping over battlements; wrong turns, throes of sickness, menacing characters, panic, the romance of foreign languages, drunks and beggars, gypsies, young eyes soft as dew, a line of hills outside Barcelona, distant trains tracking far down the line, whistles haunting.

Legacies linger like sea fog, or smoke hovering over an ashtray. I stare from a window remembering those hills dark with rain, lamplight seen from a returning boat, sea ice, a pizzicato of pigeons scattering across a city square in chronicled Europe, the stillness of odd, aged architecture, walls fledged with time; crossing old borders, streetlights’ reflection in puddles, the cathedral smell of history; being tracked by a helicopter across East Germany, buying heavy bottles of spirits there, price ridiculously low.

Blue letters from home were treasured, smartphones still as far in the future as adult grandchildren. My descendants offer to take me again, time’s flight schedule tight now. No longer footloose, I lack health, joie de vivre, that lust, but hear those trains’ faint cries, scuffed backpack waiting like a dog its owner has not forgotten..


About the Author

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Live Encounters, Poetry New Zealand, Southerly, and Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.