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Saudade, a poem by David Garyan


Facing away

from the Adriatic,

the loneliest person

may bend magnets

into question marks.

What map do you give

sailors who live

on a planet without land—

covered by one ocean?

There can neither

be hope in answers,

nor hope for an answer—

still, the captain’s tongue must

keep crashing like waves

nearing the end of a beginning;

that’s how I see you, Ravenna;

it’s here among your crosses

where the streets welcome

me home yet still

keep their distance.

Your alleys are so familiar,

I can walk among

them without recalling

their names.

And likewise they're so foreign

when I can’t speak

their language—

or worse yet,

when I no longer trust them.

All roads leading out

are parents no one misses.

Thousands of trains

have arrived here bringing

futures already predicted—

a thousand more will come

with a past I always

recall differently.

Faces glance away

like winds born

with one speed.

Every hand touches

you like a history

whose fingerprints

are always the same.

Why can’t hereafters

read their own diaries?

Why can’t once upon a times

happen just once?

Let me, again,

become my own saint—

believe everyone,

yet have faith

in only my Faith.

I’ll be a desert

that stops doubting

the sun’s existence.

I’ll follow a waterfall

that doesn’t trust gravity,

but still listens to it.

What’s the point?

I can’t separate

my self-conscious outlook

from the mirrors

I look at all day—

that’s vanity.

What I really want

is to escape from a hell

I no longer believe in.

Sitting alone

at Piazza San Francesco,

it’s hard to read

the same book

again and again,

and that’s why

I haven’t read it.

Like the sound of footsteps

and laughter,

the world doesn’t change—

no matter which way you go.

There are millions of roads

going west,

but only one direction

to get there.

Yet, I’d still miss the sun,

even if light didn’t exist.

I would keep making plans

if the future had no tense.

These are the lessons

no one taught in school,

or maybe I missed them thinking

about who I wanted to be,

where I wanted to live,

and how I would ache

for a woman whose name

means “happiness.”

June 2020


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