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Sail away

September 23, 2012

This week’s Poetics challenge at the dVerse Poets Pub was to “Write a poem that you did not expect to write today.” I never expect to write the poems instigated by this group, because I challenge myself to come up with a new piece based on the given prompt within the 48-hour window. Perhaps what is unexpected about this poem, then, is that I am (hopefully) not the last poet to submit! But just to cover my bases, I focused on the unexpected in this piece.

In July 2011, my sister, brother-in-law, and then 3-month-old nephew moved from the U.S. to Australia for two years. I’ve never traveled Down Under, but I knew I would be as soon as she told me they would be moving there shortly after the baby was born. And after hearing tale upon tale about George’s blue-water experience in the South Pacific, it quickly became clear that this would be a typical Julie adventure. As in, why book a guided tour across Siberia when you can spend nearly a year in Russia learning the language and board a Trans-Siberian train on your own? As in, why follow a guidebook through Morocco when Peace Corps volunteers will happily take you in and point the way to towns that have never seen an American tourist? As in, why do the typical postgraduation European backpacking tour when you can live and work in London for six months first?

As in, why fly to Australia when you can crew on a sailboat from Hawaii and across the South Pacific? So that became the dream. And now it’s going to happen: departure set for late October. Here’s the first in what will be a series of poems about our next adventure.

Next Adventure
Two years
knowing the destination
emerald city of sunburnt country
nicknamed for Dorothy’s wizard land
Just weeks later
wisps of dreams, tickles of plans
could we, what if, why not?
envisioning taunt white wings of cloth
rather than today’s usual aluminum
flying us over miles of ocean
Six months
searching for the perfect match
scroll through posts
send blind daters’ resumes
know excitement of initial contact
only to see marriages fail
courses change
damage and empty wallets
redraft best-laid plans
Twenty-three days ago
another likely connection
but human, with imperfections
perhaps too much commitment to
travel too far
maybe too late to be
on the same road less traveled
So we form alternative plans
prepare to stop searching
become comfortable with going solo
welcoming tastes of independence
projecting strength
which is why the yes
like our own story
is unexpected

—Julie Laing

Thanks, Karin, for the fabulous prompt–I will be reading your 1 Mississippi book to my nephew by Christmas.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2012 1:58 am

    Reblogged this on Ditch the Dog.


  2. September 23, 2012 11:59 pm

    Thanks all! It will be quite the adventure. I guess the lead-in is a bit distracting from the poem, though. 🙂 I’m glad the excitement come through in the piece, John–it’s just going to build as we get closer.


  3. September 23, 2012 4:59 pm

    oh wow…you are awesome….to take such a trip…i dream too…smiles…i def want to go to australia…and to take a sailboat omg….you have lived quite the adventurous life too…i am envious…to say the least…excellent poem as well julie….sorry i am a little distracted by my envy…ha.


  4. September 23, 2012 3:11 pm

    Oh, Julie. To begin with–what an exciting adventure you have planned–so wonderful to be able to do those things while you are able.

    And then the poem–love the layers of insight you have created in this allegory.

    I suggest a Kindle or some other e-book which I rely on for travel. Saves having to lug a ton of book and you can download ahead of time in case the “Whispernet” doesn’t work at sea.

    I’ve been having to minimize my blogging for a while because of a tendonitis that just won’t go away. It’s not the posting that’s a problem, just returning visits to commenters as I like to. That’s my excuse for not showing up at the pub today. Sometimes I try to write to the prompt and post it on OLN.


    • September 24, 2012 12:05 am

      Sorry to hear about the tendonitis, Victoria–it must be frustrating to have it holding you back. I always mean to try to write the prompts I miss for OLN, but it never seems to work out and you’ve just read my excuse: trip planning. 🙂

      Thanks for the Kindle suggestion–I don’t own one now and am still on the fence. Since I spend all day reading things on they computer at work, it’s never appealed. And somehow the words “saltwater” and “e-reader” are making me hesitant to buy one. You’re certainly right about the weight issue though. Hmm…


      • September 24, 2012 11:24 am

        They have all kinds of covers to protect them–you should be able to find one that will be good against saltwater. And then there’s always ziplocks!


  5. September 23, 2012 1:43 pm

    oh wow..this sounds just like a breath-taking journey you’re having ahead..and did you really do all the other things as well? the trans-siberian train and living in london for a while…wow…bet you could tell thousands of stories…i love traveling…so much to discover..and i also think we discover also ourselves when we travel


    • September 23, 2012 1:54 pm

      Oh yes, Claudia–so many stories! When I go to list them like that, even I hardly believe I’ve done all of them and more. I agree with you about the self-discovery while traveling–the best and the worst, it all seems to come out on the road. It’s been a while since my last grand adventure, and meanwhile my life has changed dramatically, so I’m looking forward to new discoveries this time out.


  6. September 23, 2012 12:57 pm

    Sounds like its going to be an adventures of a lifetime. The excitement is in the writing


  7. September 23, 2012 12:29 pm

    First – wow! That sound just incredibly exciting. I envy your adventurous spirit, and ability to carry it through! Your poem describes that trepidation and the difficulties of making commitment when that energy has to match up with someone else, either for the adventure of a trip or a lifetime. It was very interesting.

    Second – thanks so much for participating, and thanks for getting my book. It is very simple in terms of story line, but the pictures – if you like elephants! – are cute. Thanks much. And amazing to think it may be going to Australia! k.

    PS – if you like Terry Pratchett, you might like his book called The Last Continent. It is not one of the best Pratchetts, but it is kind of a fun look at Australia. k.


    • September 23, 2012 12:38 pm

      Thanks, Karin! I’m already putting together my travel library–although I think I’m too ambitious in calling it that, since I’ll have to be able to carry it. I’ve read a bit of Pratchett and enjoyed his work, so I’ll definitely have a look at your recommendation. And your book’s already in Australia–I sent it down ahead of me, and my nephew already loves it. My sister tells me he’s been practicing his elephant imitation, complete with swinging trunk and sound effects.


      • September 23, 2012 1:35 pm

        That’s so nice. It’s based on a childhood game I used to play. I’m not sure that translates, but the pictures are cute. Thanks again. k.


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