The Country of Myself
by Theodora Goss
There are days
on which I return to the country of myself
and close the borders.
I order the trains to stop running, and ground
the airplanes. Barriers are erected at the checkpoints.
There are no cars on the roads, and the booths
where the guards usually sit are deserted.
No one goes in or out.
At the embassy,
no passports are stamped, no visas
are issued. In the banks,
you cannot exchange currency.
All the post offices are shuttered.
Even the telephone lines
Don’t try to walk over the mountains,
thinking there are no boundaries
in the pine forests, thinking you can wade
through the rivers or clamber over the rocks.
My troops are on patrol, they have eyes
that can see in the dark.
Their dogs can smell your footsteps
on water. Not even birds
fly over the invisible lines
that exist on my map.
The rain hesitates
to blow across them.
Perhaps someday I’ll decide to reopen
the borders again, allow clouds to float across the sky
without a lengthy interrogation. Allow the moon
to shine down without the danger of catching
its beams on barbed wire.
Perhaps someday I’ll permit even you
(The image is Young Girl with a Vase by Berthe Morisot.)