The suitcase poems.


I’ve been living out of suitcases
for the past four years,
a few months here, a couple weeks there,
in six different states, staying
in hotels, apartments, houses, cabins, inns–

but it’s only one day until I get my gown and cap,
I’m sitting in the middle of my stuff,
and somehow I’ve forgotten how to pack.

It used to be an exact science–
My books in the black suitcase
because cardboard wouldn’t carry the weight,
room decorations in the thin plastic bins
because they were oddly shaped,
clothes in trash bags, electronics in that one box,
laptop in backpack slung around my shoulder,
never to throw away a single paper
for fear it would be needed in the future,

and so my suitcases sat, stuffed,
untidy answers to the question of how much
I could fit into a limited space.

Now, they sit on the floor
and I’m staring at them because
somehow, they too, have changed
and grown as they have aged and
traveled from place to place,

sitting here as empty spaces to be filled,
not answering anything anymore,
only asking the question of how much
I am willing to leave behind.


When people ask me if I’ve “processed”–
the end of college,
the end of 18 years of student-hood,
my impending entrance into the real world–
all I can think of is processed food.
Like Doritos.

(I imagine how little triangles are cut so precisely from corn flour
and arranged in exacting rows next to other identical triangles
on neatly-spaced aluminum trays
and sprayed evenly all over with bright orange cheese dust,
slowly rolling out on a conveyor belt,
supreme in artificial glory,
and packed into shiny plastic bags, each bag
containing equal chip-to-air proportions,
all steps perfectly executed,
all bags compartmentalized into boxes,
each box with a precise destination.)

So mostly I just say no.


I suppose that, eventually,
I must come to terms

with the fact that, one day,
when I’m tired and a little thinner,
I’ll look back
and I’ll probably really miss all this

with the fact that there are
one hundred things I’m taking for granted–
time, moments, people–
that I won’t appreciate till they’re gone

with the fact that this glorified,
wild, bright-light last phase of my childhood
is nearly over, and that the years of hard
and holy things have only just begun.

I suppose that, eventually,
I must grieve.

But I am not there, not yet.

Today, I’m only thankful for
the One who knows me like the back of His hand,
the One who reads my indecipherable heart
like the simplest of maps,

the One who holds me still
and in His mercy reminds me that
grief is neither a monster to be feared
nor a schedule to be forced,

the One who gives me the freedom
to weep and to laugh and to miss
everything and nothing simultaneously,
no explanation required.


3 thoughts on “The suitcase poems.”

  1. Your introspection and descriptive writing makes one feel like they are in the same time and place. Wonderful writing!! Love you, Nonnie


  2. Love these – thanks for sharing and writing, Erin!

    When people talk about whether I’ve “processed” something, I think of neatly cataloguing and understanding and then packing away. And I’ve learned that never happens. Something always spills out, your taking inventory only lasts for that one moment and maybe the one shortly thereafter. We aren’t as neat as we sometimes like to think we are.

    Enjoy your senior week!



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