Where Traces End

Jiujiang, April 1999

Adoption tourists in China
on a day of rain and mist,
our tour bus stopped
and we handed our camera
forward to a stranger
near the door
who snapped
a photo of the gate
where you’d been left
with a note bearing a date
and nothing more.

Back in America,
the film developed,
we saw the picture
of a man
who’d been walking past,
umbrella tipped back.
He stood briefly,
looking into our eyes,
waiting to be memorialized
before moving on,
before rain
washed away all trace
he’d been there.

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11 thoughts on “Where Traces End

  1. The two ideas connect so subtly. A child left at the gate with a note – a man wanting someone to notice he was there: how we all want to be acknowledged, to have someone know that we’re here, that we’re alive.

    In petroglyphs, the symbol of a hand with a spiral in it is very common. It simply means “I was here.” This piece reminded me of that.

    Very excellent work, poet.

  2. Powerful in the messages of leaving – leaving a place, leaving something precious – and also of finding a home. The picture is amazing.

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