April 6th, 2006

poetrythursday

POETRY THURSDAY

I ripped this poem out of the Sept/Oct 1993 issue of Ms. magazine, a jagged-edged heavyweight linen-feeling page with a black and white photograph of a woman facing away, her long hair blowing in the wind. Above her is a tall sky filled with white and fluffy, but somehow oppressive, cumulus clouds. Ahead of her is the twisty slingbacked road along the ridge of a highland, shining in the lowering sun. In the fall of 1993 I felt utterly alone. I wasn't dating anyone, and I wasn't in the mood to date anyone. I had been single for a very long time, although I had had some small romances that kept my heart from shriveling completely, but I was convinced that the love of my life was behind me. I had a job I loved, an apartment of my own that I loved in a city I loved and I figured that despite the disappointments of the romances of the past I would be fine on my own as I headed into my 30th year. Which turned out to be one of the best of my life because 6 months later I met Anders. However, in the meantime, I kept this poem because it was comforting to me in a backhanded sort of way.

Traveler's Advisory
by Sharon M. Van Sluys


Expect the worst.
You will slide an incredible distance
before you stop.
Much may be damaged.
Small bones break easily
and heal untrue.

Anticipate corners and snaking ways. Brake.
It is the force, the physics, of such shapes
that do not allow guessing, heroics,
or turning back.

Do not rely upon landmarks. Surely
they will vanish in the ferocity of what
may occur.

Whatever happens, do not panic.
If you do not arrive,
keep your hands in your pockets, the tips
of your ears covered,
your heart bundled.
Do not sleep.
Do not allow yourself to be buried
in the howling
of what might have been.

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