When I went traveling, missives from home
awaited me everywhere I chose to roam.
Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Dakar—
No matter how foreign, no matter how far,
as I traveled by boat and auto and train,
over and over and over again
at postal restante, the letters they came—
varied in handwriting, varied in name.
Neighbors and cousins and aunts in strange places—
names conjuring up familiar old faces—
Letters at each port—sometimes a small pile—
arrived as I piled up mile after mile
of distance between the places I’d known
and all the new places to which I had flown
that spectacular trip of four months duration—
that long yearned-for chance for global education.
In that time before cellphones and internet and
when communication was all done by hand,
I still felt a bond with home and my past,
no hopeless feeling that I had been cast
into a strange world where I had no place.
My mother insured that this wasn’t the case,
for note after note conjured up the warm heart
of all of the people who’d been there from the start.
Later I found that since I’d left home,
to quench that long yearning to discover and roam,
each letter home that I’d written and sent,
my mother had copied and then she had leant
to the local paper who published them all
from the time that I left in the early fall
to the time four months later when I opened my pack
to reveal all the letters folks had written back!
Past teachers and uncles that I’d never known,
wrote insuring that I’d never feel all alone.
And each time I opened one, glad as I was
to be out in the midst of the the world’s alien buzz,
nonetheless I felt hiraeth raise its warm head
and for a time felt nostalgia instead.
Thus with one hand did my mother let go
to allow me the freedom that I needed so
while with the other she created a tether
that bound my two worlds securely together.