Take the thickest socks.
Wherever you’re going
you’ll have to walk.
There may be water.
There may be stones.
There may be high places
you cannot go without
the hope socks bring you,
the way they hold you
to the earth.
At least one pair must be new,
must be blue as a wish
hand-knit by your mother
in her sleep.
Take a leather satchel,
a velvet bag an old tin box —
a salamander painted on the lid.
That is to carry that small thing
you cannot leave. Perhaps the key
you’ve kept though it doesn’t fit
any lock you know,
the photograph that keeps you sane,
a ball of string to lead you out
though you can’t walk back
into that light.
In your bag leave room for sadness,
leave room for another language.
There may be doors nailed shut.
There may be painted windows.
There may be signs that warn you
to be gone. Take the dream
you’ve been having since
you were a child, the one
with open fields and the wind
Mistrust no one who offers you
water from a well, a songbird’s feather,
something that’s been mended twice.
Always travel lighter
than the heart.
Listening to Lorna Crozier, whom I greatly admire, on CBC Sunday morning, I was reminded of this poem of hers which I’ve loved since I first read it. Haven’t you wished, at least once in your life, that someone would give you instructions for your unknown future? Some directions to help you navigate this life you find yourself in?
She has us begin with thick socks, the hope socks bring you, / the way they hold you / to the earth, ground you wherever you are. Bring a pair blue as a wish /hand-knit by your mother / in her sleep, an enchanting possibility. Even if your mother never knit, you could wish for that because you know that Wherever you’re going / you’ll have to walk.
You will need a satchel, a bag, an old tin box – / a salamander painted on the lid, something to hold that small thing you cannot leave – a key, a photograph, a ball of string to lead you out / though you can’t walk back / into that light. For myself it was a purple Crown Royal drawstring bag in which I kept my inexplicable treasures. And though I neglected the ball of string, I did leave room for sadness because that is the other language we must learn in order to move through this world. Perhaps most important is to take the dream / you’ve been having since / you were a child, that one where you were connected to the real world and its aliveness in a way that we seem to lose as we grow older.
Finally, the instruction to always trust offerings of water from a well (that icy-clear taste), a songbird’s feather (a Jay’s impossible blue), something that’s been mended twice (my first pair of leather gloves). That last line: always travel lighter / than the heart, catches my breath each time, a gentle reminder not to let heart-heaviness weigh me down too long. I return to these instructions from time to time, when I feel I’m losing my way, pull on those sky blue socks and start walking.