Dislocation

Still opening the wrong cupboard door,

tripping on the step in the entrance,

bruising toes against the unexpected.

 

Stark white walls void of personality,

matching all the mismatched furniture:

battered, scarred and honest friends.

 

Professionals at packing and moving,

gaining experience every passing year,

but all the same it never gets easier.

 

Something lost, something broken,

until everything has its own quirk

fixed with glue or crutched on wood.

 

Fumbling for lights in the darkness,

bumping against invisible barriers,

until groping fingers find familiarity.

 

A maze of old turns and new twists,

settling into the rutted routine,

of finding the middle just to leave.

Affiliation

It’s the World Cup, and I know because my (male) colleagues are discussing it all the time.  I probably wouldn’t have been aware otherwise because football (soccer for you Americans out there! :P) doesn’t interest me. Today, I was asked who I was supporting and I said – no one. I think I added something like I wasn’t interested in football as a reason, but the main reason I’m not supporting anyone is because I just don’t have strong ties to a place. I’ve never experienced that sense of devastation when a team or an athlete loses, or elation when they win. I don’t have a country that I consider to be a rival country, against whom I would support anyone else, whether they represent my country or not. While part of that might be because I’m not a huge fan of sports, mostly it’s because I’m not patriotic. 

Who should I support? The USA, because my father is from there? Or perhaps Finland, because my mother is from there? Or then, England/Britain because that’s where I live. More often, I support Japan or South Korea like I did at the figure skating in the Winter Olympics because of the times I had there. If Swaziland ever had an athlete or team, maybe I would support them because I was born there. I rarely support the US – they’re in so many events that they win too often. I like the Finns to win though because they hardly feature in anything, and win rarely. 

Sometimes I switch in the middle. Sometimes I never support anyone. Sometimes I decide long after the event has begun. 

Gate

Standing at the wide, towering window,

standing out from the others as usual –

back turned from the long runway view

that the innocent, lucky children gawk at.

The loud rumble of airplane engines,

and I can tell if they are rising or landing,

but the familiarity only twists me into knots

so I turned my back on the cruel machines.

 

Watching the people sitting at the gate.

Such an apt name, I wonder who chose it?

For them it’s an open gate into wonders,

but for me it will lock shut after I pass through:

a heavy gate in a wall topped with broken glass.

Friends and relatives are on the other side,

but I was never really inside that high wall –

I was where I am now, standing in the gate.

 

Families sit in this threshold laughing together,

flicking with shining, greedy eyes through

glossy travel guides and smart phrase books;

imagining and planning that exciting getaway.

A holiday, a break, a time for relaxation and fun,

and when they think of the people left behind

they talk of tacky souvenirs and missed opportunities.

They talk of what they will do when they return.

 

The book in my bag is heavy with knowledge,

a burden of all that I need to know but don’t.

The red marks scoring out where I’ve gone wrong,

mixing up this grammar with Spanish or Chinese,

pronouncing this word as though it were French,

but at least a good mark on the elementary test.

I hopefully won’t make a complete fool of myself.

The test will go with the other five – or wait, six?

 

The air hostess starts calling out the seat numbers,

and the travelers are fidgeting with excitement.

Parents point out the planes to their children –

we’re going to fly on that to a place you’ll love!

I look at the planes, that others see as thrilling,

and all I see is a big, flying transport to prison

and I wish I had the courage to hijack it back.

But when it’s my turn, I join the boarding line.