When I give thought to the necessities for a journey,
I first think of the obvious: new drawers; a new trunk
That will fit on the carriage, lined; slippers for dancing;
New boots for much walking; my travel suit; my pelise
For more formal occasions; money drawn from the bank;
My journal and slate; stationery, ink and my writing desk.
But, of course, there are also the last-minute things.
As I take leave of my father and am about to pass through
To the courtyard, my eyes land on the thermometer
And I pull it off its hook tuck it under my arm. One wants
To know what the weather is, when traveling, so as
To plan one's clothes, decide to go out or stay in.
And as I hurry out to the courtyard, I see them lined up
To see me off: the servants, my aunt, my sister. Of course
Only my aunt seems disturbed by my leaving. Marian
Probably is relieved. The servants, I imagine, only think
Of one less mouth to feed, one less set of clothes
To launder, orders to obey... But Aunt Anne is in tears,
Her handkerchief damp in her hand, her eyes red.
I feel a powerful tenderness toward her, this woman
Who has been more of a mother to me than my own
Ever was. I stride forward and kiss her hand. She sees
My meaning, my gratitude, I hope. Then, all needful
Things packed or handled, I get in and we go. Release.