Time, That Stalker

Ian C. Smith

In a Vancouver youth hostel, exhausted after hitchhiking from Kingston, N.Y. to the Labrador Straits then backtracking via Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, across the Canadian prairie below the widest sky lodged in memory, to the Rockies, beyond to Alaska, before sleeping on deck through the Inside Passage’s fog to Vancouver Island, I see one-way trans-Atlantic tickets from Seattle drastically discounted pulsating on the notice board.  Almost broke because I miscalculated the exchange rate, we need to get back to our moulding caravan and wreck of a car in rainswept Kent.

The English couple selling the tickets have a double-barrelled surname that includes ours. My flimsy invention if challenged is we both prefer using shorter, easier, versions of our names for our passports.  I understand those novels about spies with nowhere left to hide as we hitchhike south, walking through the border into the U.S. where we were earlier declared aliens after a dodgy employment fiasco, to reach the airport with many hours to spare.

Time creeps in dusty light, the concourse gradually busier.  Our (their?) flight pushes in, top of the board.  Houston, then London.  Or not.  Or what? Led away by security?  The flight continues to Paris, romantic in autumn, but we crave the shelter of our makeshift base, fidgety waiting for the queue to lengthen.

Sweat cooling, we clear Customs and Immigration to the boarding lounge, hazy runways seen through glass dreamlike, a faint whine that could be a police siren a taxiing jet heard from our almost soundproof safety.  Illness racks her high over the Atlantic, a reaction caused by my guilty hubris.  Fearing a wasted life I can’t know that one day I shall edit this faded news alone, trying to recall if I knew at heart she had not wanted to share my yearning journey.


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.