You forget all about the life
you thought you loved: your books. Your coffee pot.
The way in the morning the carpet feels
on your bare feet when you swing your legs out of bed.
You’re just walking down a narrow stone street
with shops on either side and all you’re thinking about
is spices. Saffron. Tahini. Also Roman coins,
watches, fabrics of many colors and designs.
You’re brushing shoulders with many people, some
of them in headdresses. The men have dark beards
and are shouting and gesturing. It’s wonderful.
It’s like a tunnel and maybe when you come out
the sun is setting on the sea and you’re eating a fish
someone just pulled out of the shining waters
and you can’t believe how good it tastes.
And none of this is to any purpose.
It doesn’t matter at all.
I should say that you’re traveling when you’re older
and you’ve finally accepted the fact
that you’ve done all you’re going to do with your life.
You’ve accomplished all you’re going to accomplish.
So you’re not bringing any of this back
to impress anyone. The beautiful things
you’re seeing are just for you. They’re just inside you.
No one knows you in the dark churches.
No one knows you in the markets.
No one knows you.
One afternoon the guides let you off by the side
of a road and you walk a little way
into a small, narrow valley: smooth grassy slopes,
then rocky cliffs on either side.
Other flowers you can’t name.
It’s late in the day and the shadows are gathering
and the air is cool and dry and the path
curves ahead slightly into some soft, green trees.
The last light is hitting the top of the cliffs.
The Valley of Doves, they call it,
because the doves nest there
in the cliffs and coo and mourn but also because
when the wind comes down through the gap
it sounds like doves and it sounds like sighing.
Jesus walked here, the guides tell you.
He must have.
It’s the only way.