Foreign Happiness: A travel poem

When I told my mother one evening over dinner
that I planned to disappear
into the European abyss for the summer,
she looked up coldly from her plate of Prego spaghetti sauce,
Dropped her Oneida silver fork,
and pushed herself away from the aged-oak table.

Halfway down the hall,
she quickly motioned for me to follow.

I walked up to her standing in front of a china cabinet
overflowing with baubles and figurines –
all fine pieces of unpronounceably foreign,
name-branded rock and sand.
Every item was beautifully preserved deep within
this miniature museum of our household,
only to be viewed from afar
behind layers of plate glass
and beneath well-positioned lighting.

She beamed with pride at her hand-crafted
collection of novelties produced in lands she’ll never see,
some gifted to her by friends and family
who had never been nearer to French designs
than at knock-off dress racks in Dillard’s department stores.

She imbued them with all her happiness in the world,
as if trying to protect some figment of a possibly
happier – but long-forgotten — self,
disregarding the rest of humanity that doesn’t
live trapped inside glass cages.

I left her lost in admiration of her polished pieces of porcelain
and went to pack for my trip;
thirty years from now,
I want my memories to relapse into.

I don’t want to find myself sinking into an Italian-leather sofa
watching Lifetime channel repeats
inside my small fortress of enthroned replica treasures,
never being able to understand or value what they truly signify.

Istanbul Fish Market at Midnight

Istanbul Fish Market at Midnight


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