Walking along the Amstel

This is a poem in my Amsterdam series (1, 2) inspired by my time living there in 2015 as a still-fresh expat in a world full of people reorienting in various ways. Sometimes you go looking for the promised land (resistance, a free world, trade routes made of gold) and discover other searchers instead—and that home in other searchers is the best reorientation you could wish for.

“Walking along the Amstel”

Bicycles, babies, and boats bob along the Amstel—
the Rival, the Tramp, and the Res Nova exhaling in gentle troughs.
Amsterdam after L.A. is practical and gray.
Here, bits of blue sky make no Technicolor promise.

Clouds come and go quietly, leading by example.
Mothers laugh and trail behind babies on bicycles,
Dutch stomachs effortlessly tight as they juggle
groceries, phones, and younger babes. (Look, Moms! no hands!)

I am counting butterfly bushes instead of losses,
no longer counting colors to keep from staring at oncoming trains.
Rustling reeds remind me the summers are short,
but my season here is ample—time cool and long.

My new life is like a length of boat sailing across the horizon,
with the slowness of scale but the smoothness of a cat
comfortably at home. I am a stranger here, and illegal.
But there’s no where to return—I will never go home.

All the world’s reset on roam.
This vagabonding is our Res Nova.
Home in the world is the new home.
Banging along for Yucatán, discovering Cordova.