by M.J. Iuppa
While a lone moth batters your bedroom’s overhead light, you pack your suitcase. This isn’t a trip to grandma’s house, that alphabetical memory game of things to take with you. Although, you have made a list and know it’s best to pack light. You’ve been losing. Thoughts. Weight. Shoes. The truth be told, no one cares. This time of life reminds you of childhood. How no one pays attention. Age is an editor with an invisible pen. Out of sight, out of mind.
You line up underwear and medicine according to the days of the week. Seven. A number that is both lucky and wayward— enough time for creation in spite of deadly sins that you find delicious and distracting. You tell yourself that it’s okay. This is an experiment. There isn’t an iron clad rule that determines your success or failure. You don’t have to report to anyone, but you; and you, in this case, is the audience of one.
When you were in your twenties, you listened to your disappointed teachers, and believed that everything took time. You wrote about love, about smoky kisses that lassoed the unexpected bystander; and out-of-the-blue, you were looking hard at each other, and this is where it gets tricky: you remember his one complete smell of sandalwood and licorice, that smell caught in his neck’s soft crease was the trigger called blackout.
Now you know the self who won’t leave you. In the rear view mirror, your eyes give you away. You’ve seen what time takes in its daily measure. You turn onto the two lane highway heading North, knowing you can’t turn back on the truth and what you loved. It’s just the facts. Soon, you will be unpacking in a cabin on a quiet lake, which will please you as nothing else has before.
You came here alone, and standing on the porch in the moist scent of pine, you find the clear night’s sky punctuated with stars— each visible line you trace is a sentence that will tell a story, not unlike the one you’ve lived, but you will call it fiction.
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"Open Suitcase" first appeared in Wild, A Quarterly (October, 2014).
M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. She has three full length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.