This post is different from the others that have appeared previously. Much like last month, I’ve struggled to sit and synthesize the past few weeks. So, rather than forcing something, I’m going to share three poems I’ve written this year which I feel capture distinct, important moments from this experience along with a brief update covering my project-related work here in New Zealand.
Project Update: I decided to spend almost all of my time in New Zealand in Auckland whilst engaging with the same two organizations, splitting my time between volunteering as a hospital companion (a role that essentially means I get to walk through the wards and be companionable to the patients admitted there) and poking around a university’s palliative care research group. Volunteering and researching are a return to my roots in some ways; my life as it relates to palliative care now is largely the same as it was exactly a year ago in Boston. I was aware that my arrival to New Zealand marked a return to the familiar: I’d be doing volunteer work similar to that I’ve done in the past, able to take advantage of a university research environment, and be back in a county where English is the predominately spoken language. I worried that all of this familiarity wouldn’t stoke growth in the same way the change I’ve experienced thus far has, but what I neglected to realize was that the familiar provides a basis for comparison. It’s almost as if after seven months of diligently honing my skills, I finally have a chance to utilize them.
He’s translating the form twice over.
Greek to Farsi,
Farsi to French.
Just like the girls,
the young girls whose hair has just been covered,
just like they do when I say:
Mytilene, Lesvos (August 2019)
It’s this thing called life, you will
know it by its seriousness. By sneakers whose
souls are made black by city streets, but lose
any pep in steps when feet toil
when they drag against ankles. Mile
after mile wondering why yours won’t bruise
but his, that man you see, who only gets to choose:
park, corner, overpass? Why his don’t heal.
Give him your shoes, white and new.
But they’ll refuse to fit. Feet too worn
from the scraps scattered in the street. Torn
promises of change, of ideas that imbue
who he is and who you may become
all while neglecting the free in freedom.
Trivandrum, Kerala (October 2019)
I collect these ink stamps
with a fervor.
In eight years,
eight impossibly definite years,
they’ll be taken back. So I
recall the sunsets,
all the stories,
every one of these miles
as if it would make
the ink indelible,
But really it was
about any of that—
Not the Acropolis,
Not the Channel,
Not the Arabian Sea.
Not the memories,
and hardly even Me.
It’s been about floating
in dark water under
an even darker sky.
About letting doting
drops fall, with no
worry of clouding my eye.
Singapore (January 2020)
I will be based in Auckland through late February before heading to the South Island for a few days then onward to Colombia for most of the spring.