Close to a year ago, I wrote a poem about my world being on my desk, here. This is a similar poem, now a year later, and this time, it’s in my backpack.
Photo credit: Pexel
My world is in my backpack
Stuffed into pockets and corners and zipped compartments
Crammed until I can hardly close it.
Every now and long forgotten items surface
Like the chicken bones my friend found in a pocket one day
Or the little bag of sticky rice I forgot for weeks,
Not unlike the skeletons in the proverbial closet.
My world is in my backpack, or at least a ¾ part of it.
Crumpled on the bottom is the linguistics quiz
With the mysterious .5 marked off of it,
Several baht coins scattered about unceremoniously
With one lone Abraham Lincoln penny still holding its ground;
Flashcards from aforesaid linguistics prep,
Harmonica that helps release the ache on lonely moonlit nights,
And a long-forgotten packet of fisherman’s friend lozenges;
Socks for when the air-conditioning becomes too much for me
(And when I need the comfort of something cozy again).
Notes from doing a movie analysis needed for my final paper,
And my faithful Kindle which is to me what Friday was to Crusoe;
Crumpled up paper about faith with a chocolate smudge
With a list of children’s names on the back from VBS, reminding me that yes, I was at home this summer.
Breathsavers that I think must have come from my sister’s dresser drawer
From back home in that creaky second story that turns frigid on cold winter nights
(And I really should give them back to her because I completely forgot I had them.)
A crumpled-up business card for a souvenir shop that I can only think came from that Thai lady
The one I met at the airport in China when my flight home was canceled
And she made me cry with her kindness when we heard the news at 2 AM.
My phone, my key ring that holds 7 keys (of which only 2 I use),
2 USB sticks, eyedrops for when the long drives on my bike are too much;
A receipt for a latte at Start Up café, and at the same time, one crumpled up receipt from
Dunkin Donuts at the Dwight D. Eisenhower airport in Wichita
When I bought a latte on my way back and drank it while reading the card from my mom,
And crying while I ate the cookies that the little blonde boy brought over for me
Just before I left, and he asked me matter of factly,
When the airplane was coming to pick me up?
A lone key that used to be for the old lock on the gate,
A leftover paper from English class with a list on the back
Of items I need for my residency papers.
A flashlight, a pencil a friend gave me just before exams
And a post card my Japanese friend gave to me of a cityscape from her trip to Hungary.
A scissors, a set of watercolor pencils, and a pad of watercolor paper
Just in case, you know, I ever find myself somewhere with nothing to do.
Sunglasses for those long drives to IGo at 5:15 PM,
And two energy bars to sneakily eat at coffee shops when I am too stingy to buy food with my coffee;
Two packs of cards to play games with my English students;
Crumpled and folded and fingered notes from the presentation on nonverbal communication,
When I bent and crushed the papers in my hand, no, not nervous at all.
The planner my friend gave to me at Christmas
That says “The Best Year Ever,” and I think I believe it
Even though the year has been thrown into a backpack
And juggled around through customs and airports and classes
From farm world to city world, from one life to the other.
My billfold with 3 different drivers licenses, 2 Thai and one American,
My blood donor card I haven’t used for years,
Along with my student ID and my Bangkok Bank card
And about 10 others I rarely use.
My little catch all bag from a Thai friend for Christmas, full of pens
And a spinner, and highlighters and pencil sharpeners and sticky notes,
With the keychain that has the word “Jesus” on it,
From my friend who has left for the cornfields of Indiana;
A paper left over from Aj. Tony’s survey about how many languages we speak
(And I still can’t decide how many it actually is);
Then finally the little miniature airplane I made out of the gold foil
That wrapped the chocolate my friend from Ho Chi Minh City gave me last weekend.
I finger it and lift it up, give it a whirl,
Watch it glimmer,