My feet are itching to lead me into the tangles and out of them.
I’m not leaving for good, for my grandad’s land has my name on it, and that’s where my mailbox is, the one tether that keeps me there, but I’m leaving for now.
This new old country sprawls and calls and I got new rhythms to find and new crickets to hear and strange air to breathe.
I got the road.
I got the road and the sound of my boots and the feel of my pulse and not a soul here who knows my name.
Freedom, freedom, freedom–each step slaps out that sound, empty poundings on the flagstone–my pulse beating in an easy one-two, my mind singing in a sideways tune of no one, nowhere, but here.
Air and sun and space and not a soul in sight and rushing through my veins that steady pulse: freedom.
That joy of a waiting vista: what’s around the bend? The meadow stretches, the bluff curves, the line of sight reaches for the horizon.
And then. The open space at the end of the road.
This is what I run toward. To be above it all and look down on clouds and roofs and streams and treetops and the road is a river that runs through it all, that road I’ve been down tracing all the travels and all the leavings behind and all the turnings toward.
This new old land where forests still stretch and cottages cluster like forgotten boulders in the lowlands and from up here, each life contained within is distant and unknown.
And then, to come face to face with a villager, and to smell the garlic on the breath and hear the rasp of a voice from a man who’s smoked his cigars and drank his wine in the café down in the forgotten huddle of a town below.
And before long, I’m a stranger no more, for I know his name and he knows mine and as night falls, he says, “Do you need a place to sleep?” and when I say yes, he says, “There’s a house down along the road where they take in travelers. Tell them I sent you.”
The scent of nicotiana flowers–that heady narcotic sweetness–perfumes the air and my knocking on the door sounds muffled, like time itself is cushioning each rap.
And a voice like a glass of aged burgundy says, “Come inside. It’s open.”
She’s got a name with all sorts of strange vowels and unexpected consonants and it rolls off her tongue like a forgotten lyric, but I can’t form the sounds, so I call her Link.
It fits. For she’s a link to every reason to ever come back from every ramble and every roaming. She’s freedom and ties and forgetting and remembering all covered in daisy tattoos and a fierce Armageddon of conscience and abandonment.
And this is the source of inspiration–everything any artist needs to rip out his lifeblood and spread it over that empty white to see if there’s anything at all in his soul that’s worth examining.
This is why I leave home. And this is why I return.