She doesn’t travel light. Four pairs of shoes for a weekend. Two suitcases and a backpack. A book she won’t read. A charger she won’t use.
She carries with her notebooks and sharpeners. Sketchpads, cameras and computers. A might need this. Friendship bracelet string. Scissors.
A dress for which there is no occasion. Shirts for which there are no pants. Undergarments get shoved into running shoes that go unworn and months from now she’ll pull panties from the toes.
She packs as though she is running away. She carries—
Fear. That she’ll get lost. That she’ll lose track of time. That she’s leaving someone behind.
Hope. That she’ll catch her bus. That they won’t card her. That someone will be waiting on the other side.
And from each place she carries something back. A ripped ticket. A glance from across a station. The words of a stranger.
Over the years she will leave behind the running shoes and the textbooks. Time will teach her how to travel light and she’ll clear room in the suitcases for the now, not the has-been.
Instead, she will walk with stories of the world upon her shoulders, always looking to add to her collection.
The Girl in the Frame
Museo Nacional Del Prado
There is a young girl
Staring at a painting
It is dark,
Larger than life
And far larger than she
Around the girl comes the motion
Couples kiss and children fight
Over the unforgiving-ness of museum floors
But despite the kinetic, she does not move
It must hurt, they all think, for the strange girl
Who stands so still, her shoulders slightly hunched
Or so they would say, if they noticed
But no one ever does
And she simply stares, waiting
Watching the painting
As if expecting, as if expecting
Not just the painting but everything
Open mouthed and mid-thought
Babies caught in squeals
Lovers caught in kisses
Even the museum guard by the door
It all freezes
And then she moves
Her legs creak a little
She walks as though she is out of practice
She clears the red rope and sticks out her hand
But doesn’t meet the canvas or oil
Her fingers slip through one layer
And then the next
Until her whole body is immersed inside the painting
And she looks as though she has always known this job
She walks up to the focal point of the image,
And the young princess standing there turns
Moves without hesitation
Out the back door
Gone from sight
As the new girl takes her place