The Suitcase

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was steerage-bound and unliftablewith stowed hope. Put anywhere,it stayed put. Heavy as Ptolemy'seight-volume guide to the world's 8000 places.Barrel-plump, girded and griddedwith twine, it gave off a great hurryas though it were King Aeolus's valise:north, west, south and east windsroofed-in for the ride. Émigré swag bag,sea-going satchel, abandoned whereit wintered, or set aside for old shoes,but still champing to be off, brownrelic of durability made indefatigablewith mileage, like a tire worn smoothbut still sound. And never the posh,wickerwork, brass-latch brand either—an Oshkosh, a Hatmann, a Wheary,a Seward—but a no-name garment-drudger,its leather stained by damp bloomsof salt, and so warped with weatherthe grain looks oaken. Open, it smells fumey,like soil left to fallow after a seasonof rain. Tipped, it turns turtle on the floor.Stacked, it's a plank in a pile shakenout of true. And upright, it albatrosses on the deckof an attic, big-winged and hunched.Or that plain-prose bag dreams itselfa sentry box, a choir stall, a bale of hay,or maybe, kindled by its testimonyof all that blue, all that water shelvedon water, it dreams its hull into a hingedbasket floating down the Nile, a littleSt. Brendan boat steering the promontories.No. It knows itself empty, long-used,and outmoded, knows itself one of those creaturesconjured by mapmakers, a grimacingunguessable thing cramped in a margin,knows itself much punished, dun-pallored,steeped in the practice of persistence.

© Starnino Carmine