Reading “The Sister” before my flight leaves for Ireland. The poem has a specific narrative, but I’m drawn to two ideas at the heart of the poem: solitude versus community, and the quiet of the journey. “How on earth did she manage / That journey on her own?”
When traveling (especially solo), there are inevitably moments of “How on earth do I manage this on my own?” Even a person like me, who needs and craves solitude fairly often, feels daunted. Sometimes the journey is desirable because of the solitude it offers. Other times, we feel so lonely and removed that everything we encounter is just another piece of that “hard bread, tougher at every slice
—the journey feels tasteless, listless.
Loneliness was brought up to me as a central idea in the Global Fellowship program. The Fellowship is meant to create the sort of environment where we, as artists, can build memories and go through struggles that are entirely our own. We’re meant to immerse ourselves in languages we don’t understand, hearing only the music; we’re meant to see things that can never be shared. I think that solo travelers often have a need to be lonely, so that the need for companionship can come up again.
I’m staying with a family as soon as I arrive in Dublin, and then will travel with a friend for awhile, but at some point, I’ll be on my own. For a good amount of time. Right now, this moment in an airport is mine, lonely because of what I’m leaving behind. But also so beautifully private in its loneliness, in the same way hard bread is poetry, raw and human, for the sister’s eyes alone.