Camping Out

There’s a suitcase on either side the bureau.

There’a suitcase on either side the bed.

The apartment is small – no room for storage.

Suitcases must make do.

A life, once full, keeps shrinking.

My life. Your life.

Camping out, now.

Waiting for the end.

Our baggage of earthly remains.

Carry-ons no longer new,

bearing signs of wear,

of exploitation,

tattered, with taped-up tears, 

zippers no longer zippable.

Lest I forget, hand-written tags

remind me of the contents.

Sweaters, stockings, sweatsuits. Gloves.

Tangible pieces of intangible memories.

The orange cashmere sweater,

a small dark-brown stain

left by coffee downed in too much haste,

nasturtiums, coral-colored,

on the matching silken scarf,

harks back to meetings with a sister-city mayor.

A nondescript frayed garment,

disgraceful my son would say,

figuratively and literally “holy”,

treasured for its warmth

when worn as underclothing

on chilly winter days.

Gloves of all kinds. Some grieving

for a lost companion.

Some, long at the wrist, are fingerless,

in obeyance of computer dictates.

Woolen stockings, toes mended

in whatever yarn,

regardless of the color,

survived a foray into the sewing box.

There will be an hour

when my days of camping out

come to their conclusion.

My suitcases and their contents

discarded, replaced

by evanescent memories.

Confident, optimistic,

I hope to keep that day

at bay

and fill just one more carry-on

–  inevitably to be left behind –

before I go.

6 thoughts on “Camping Out

  1. As usual, you’ve got me thinking. This time it’s about the multiple meanings of “carry-on.” Here, it comes at the end of your stalwart piece about endings. But I selfishly want you to keep on carrying on. There are so many things in this piece that resonate for me: the gloves grieving for a lost companion (I have a large sock “orphanage”); many favorite soft garments that, like my hole-filled, fifth-grade saddle shoes (which still fit because they were bought with room to grow) that family members proclaim disgraceful.

    The house I had to leave when we downsized was laden with treasures whose ranks have necessarily been depleted. However, I never would have thought to call the divestment “Camping Out,” which literally required a paring down to the essence. But of course your title for the life cycle in action is apt.

    By the way, we’re about to leave for a trip. Time to fetch my carry-on. 🧳

    Envoyé de mon Di-Phone


  2. I am so impressed with your writings! Just as I was impressed as a student in your Art History class in 1972/1973 in Florence, Italy. That was one of my favorite classes throughout college; it is one that has stayed with me the longest. Camping Out is wonderful—another testament to your talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Toni. Thanks ever so much – I was so “new” at teaching at Gonzaga and feel I would now have been ever so much better. You were all great kids and I wish I were in touch with more of you. Were in John Passi’s time?
      If you ever get to Orvieto, I’m here and would love to see you.


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