Travelling Light

The ad said: “No baggage please,” as if
somewhere a woman sits, light
as a rising mist, and just as appealingly insubstantial.
She carries no suitcase of worn brown
leather, the surface cracked and scored
like skin spent in a lifetime of sun.
She has never been burned, this mystery
woman, never neglected to smear on the salve,
never stood before a mirror naked, searching
for malignancies in every inconsistency.
I am reluctant to just check my bags
into a locker like the ones at the bus station.
Surely I would lose the key, and then years later,
when a curious employee jimmied open the door
and dragged the damned thing out, he would
hunt me down with my claim check and force me
to acknowledge what I had abandoned: “Here,
Lady. This is yours, right?”
I’ll carry my own luggage, if you don’t mind.
Tuck it under my seat and prop my feet up,
use it for a pillow when I’m stuck in some airport,
or to save the seat next to mine when someone
I’m waiting for is late. Every now and then, I’ll pop the top
open and rifle through the contents, holding up the forgotten
dresses and shoes, remembering suddenly and with only a small
sharp pinch of pain, how I lost my heart in one, and journeyed
through strange cities in the other.

© Jessica Minier Mabe