I have walked through granite
temples, past marble ruins
breathed thin air of the mountains
tasted an ocean’s salt. In my reckless
travels I heard everything,
understood nothing: the rituals
of food and love obscured
what other creatures apprehend.
There are many ways to slice
an apple, slit a throat. And only one.
At the mine overlook, man-made
canyons and hills crowd
the town below us. Flat geometric
shapes mimic roof and wall
and steeple. So small
this place, where women shrink
to fit their even smaller space,
once all the world I knew.
Distance renders it postcard-perfect,
a grace unseen up close.
Our canoe parts a crooked line
of pines, a sky so blue, it seems
impossible the day could turn.
A loon preens, its every move
reflected by its mate. And mine
behind me, our paddles
synchronized, our hearts
slow, calm beats, our breaths.
Under doubled clouds, strange
beings swirl, their rooted dance
a language lost to those of us
who move on restless limbs.
Like Odysseus, I wandered for years
to get back home. Arrived, I find
myself unrecognized, a tourist searching
for markers to explicate my point of origin.
CJ Muchhala’s poetry has appeared most recently in Fresh Fish: Textile Artists and Poets Explore Underwater Life, Jerry Jazz Musician, Poeming Pigeon: From Pandemic to Protest, and Thimble Literary Magazine. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.