Five years ago, I left the Pacific Northwest. I was alone and excited, seeking adventure and responding to calling on this quest eight thousand miles east. In a few weeks, I’m going back, married and expecting a baby, but with the same sense of calling and adventure as I retrace my steps back to the North Cascades.
This is my letter to the East,
Who always called to me.
Driving south were Mickey Mouse,
In-N-Out and Grandma’s house.
North meant order,
Cool green border,
signs in French and ferry rides.
And West was only water.
But ghostly East,
You lurked beyond
The penciled hills that hid the dawn.
To lands where anything could come,
Your roads rolled infinitely on.
Later you told tales wild,
Of castles fair and colonies,
Battlefields and Bible lands
Were all with you, and always true.
You were real and reeling me
To shores appealing, feeling
I could sail to you,
If only I’d go far enough.
That Narnia and Normandy
Shared some secret, eastern shore.
And now I’ve chased you,
Near and far,
From home to home, by
Plane, train, car,
I’ve read a nation backwards,
Halfway, saved the start
For later days, the older part.
I’ve skipped the seas, and skimmed the globe,
A round stone,
Touching down, covering ground,
In shimmering rings and splashing sound.
Still, wild East, you call to me:
There’s more to walk, to hear, to see.
In two-named towns and creaking trains,
Find onion domes and Mongol plains.
You tempt me with your grey-green steppes,
That climb forever, back in time,
A curious and endless debt,
Of exploration now is mine.
Perhaps—someday—I’ll find you, far,
I’ll recognize your eastern smile.
You’ll tell me that I’ve learned it all,
And let me sit and rest a while.
But now, my East, you’re not a place,
You can’t be found or reached by road.
A mystery that makes me wait,
That pulls me west, and back, and home.
A new adventure, small, not grand,
In a pacific, emerald land,
Where soon I’ll hold a tiny hand.
You draw me back where I’ve begun,
So West is East, your face, my sun.