Morning sky drawn in sidewalk chalk

Valley overlooking Tucking Mill Lake, Bath

Valley overlooking Tucking Mill Lake, Bath

Passage from Dover to Dunkirk, via Reims, to southern Germany

Past the old vicarage down the hill in time for the last of the owls, bending at the bottom through a valley to the lake for disabled anglers — No Picnics, No Model Boats, No Dogs In The Lake, No Fouling — an old groundskeeper with his even older dog Susie, what looks like a stethoscope up his sleeve is a slingshot he uses to keep the cormorants from poaching his trout, driven inland from all the over-fishing they come in to spite him now, to leave thumb-wide gashes in his fish and die a slow death by infection, for he maintains the lake for all his sins he laughs, and has a lot of time to think about it alone with his dog and the cormorants who gather in numbers in the trees to watch and wait, and come to stand for something more over time.

And he can’t imagine what he’ll do when she leaves, his dog Susie, but makes a face as if he’s experiencing it for a moment but then shakes it off, shakes my hand twice, says I hope you’ll come back to see us again and tells me where to go when we do — and eastwards to Canterbury, a candle they’ve kept burning since they destroyed Becket’s remains but missed a few small pieces of bone some make a pilgrimage to see, Becket’s bloodstained robes reduced to a thumbnail behind glass — to the white cliffs of Dover where they get chalk from the bones of all the tiny sea creatures and the dead stacked together and turn them into pictures on the driveways in the suburbs by kids, washed away in the rain, a garden hose — and across the channel to France along the splotches of white spray, the curling waves, the cathedral where Joan of Arc crowned King Charles and did all she did because she believed she was meant to — the A6 to Kaiserslautern, to Karlsruhe, returning home to Germany with Bob Dylan playing, a dried sausage, a glass of Sekt, waking to Eberhard in the morning hacking like a witch.

Three countries in a day and a half, no further than upstate New York to Pennsylvania, to New Jersey — the old woman up the street complains our cat bit her cat Chucky, a terrible name for a cat — our cat driving Chucky back, his territory confined to an overhang, stripped away of all his language and his customs, reduced to a blog post, a tweet, a story that will change each time it’s told based on who’s telling it — and the lines on the map move from side to side.

Categories: travel, writing

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11 replies

  1. Love this. I adore D.H. Lawrence and your rhythm reminded me of such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is one terrific compliment, thank you my friend. I’ve been working on my rhythm and happy you picked up on that. Now I’ll have to keep my ears open for Mr. Lawrence, what praise. I thought we just had beards in common, he and I…thank you! Bill


  2. The arc of history, of time, and our small spot in it. Welcome back to the continent. And congrats on being discovered. I feel an American Indian: “What do you mean ‘discovered’?”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. there is a spot for everyone, –

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Three countries in a day in a half is the best reason for visiting there. As you well know, you can drive for four days out here and nothing will change. The place you end up will look just like the place you left.

    Chucky really is a terrible name for a cat but Susie is a great name for a dog. That opening paragraph is a killer. It got better each time I read it.


    • Hi Mark – really glad you liked the first paragraph. I had part of a line rolling around in my head for about a week, through those countries, and it felt good to get it out of my head. I’m glad you had room in yours for it too! I can’t think of anything named Chucky without thinking of that terrible horror film. And who names their German cat Chucky? I’m glad our American cat is kicking its ass up and down the cobblestones.


  5. Washed in the rain, a garden hose. Totally there. Perfect.


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