Monday, March 24, 2008

now is the time to drink the coffee

"Instructions for a Journey"

Wear sneakers. Stuff a pocket
with tissues and treats for the dog.
Fill the other pocket with coins;
the ferryman won’t accept your
E-Zpass. Infrared binoculars
would be handy. Turn off
your cell phone. Do not annoy
the guards in any way and don’t
take the same path twice. Bring
a guidebook, compass, and map.
When you think you are lost,
you are lost. Someone may find
you but it may not be anyone you
are happy to see. Don’t complain
about it, or anything else. Be polite
and noncommittal. Do not form
attachments or enemies. When
invited anywhere, pretend you
can’t understand whatever language
the invitation is issued in. The hills
are steep but the flats are boring.
The composition of the soil is so
alkaline, it can put you to sleep.
Resist the urge. Now is the time to
drink the coffee. Don’t take Valium,
no matter how nervous this journey
makes you. When told to leave, go.
Do not wait for a signal or someone
to see you out. Do not feel you must
say good-bye. When the door slams
behind you, let it. Don’t look back.

—Susan Thomas