Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Self and Place

by Emily Lake Hansen

You say our place in the universe
is insignificant – we are just little specs,
a genetically random configuration of molecules,
two dots the size of sugar ants.

I huff, scrunch my face up in front
of the mirror. No, our dots,
I'm sure, are bigger, more brilliant than the rest.

In the meantime, we're concerned with place right here.

For a month we shared
a converted shipping container in Munich,
a single twin bed and a desk, space enough
only to slither around one another, our suitcases
and legs always touching, our selves always
bumping into the other.

We met on the Gulf Coast – just kids.
You said, let's get out of here, because
your family never did. I said, sure, because
mine always had.

So, after college, we headed for Phoenix,
rented half a house downtown, bought
a tiny flowering cactus for our windowsill,
and somehow killed it.

We moved because that's the thing you do
if you are young and dreaming, if you are selves
busy acting like selves in the universe.

But we are both better
at staying put, at settling down, climbing
into bed, lying on our bellies, fingertips
touching in sleep.

I believe, sometimes, that I am more important than the universe,
that I is bigger than place, but I have seen self shrink inside at the sight of desert,
puff up like a peacock when two buildings touch.

In Arizona, you climbed down into a canyon
and stopped breathing. For whole minutes,
you were unsure if you would start again,
if you would survive this new place.

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