PoetryIssue 14 | February 2012

Two poems by Timothy Kercher

Luggage Lost

I shipped my heart from Tbilisi
to Kyiv in twelve pieces—four suitcases,
six duffels, a bike box, and one loose
wheel. I was not the one who packed the box,
not the one who lugged it to the airport,
not the one who bribed the customs officers
with cognac and a box of chocolates—
I was the one who received the call,
was told the luggage had arrived,
the one who paid for an airport taxi,
the one who was told I needed
the packing slip I did not have. They sent me
home to search for it, and I searched
my mailbox for a document
stating my heart was in transit,
searched my pockets, my email,
even searched my own soul, and deep
inside my soul’s inner circle¸
there it was, a packing slip listing
all twelve pieces were gone so I went back
and presented the slip to the customs officer
wearing the teal uniform and a Soviet-
high brim hat. He told me to go elsewhere,
to a building just east of Borispyl, so
I went to a building with a little hole
in the wall, and behind the wall
stood a little woman. I handed
her my papers, gave her some money,
and then she shuffled some papers
with my papers and told me
that my luggage does not exist
on her computer. This was the very
moment in which I was beginning to
doubt my own existence, doubt my heart
had ever been sent, doubt that luggage
in transit had a home at all, doubt if
it mattered if the plane carrying those
twelve pieces would ever land, and during
all this doubting, the woman searched
again, told me to wait outside then waved me
back in, returned my passport
and money and told me to wait
for the next flight, wait even though
Tbilisi had confirmed the luggage had
been sent five days ago, even though
someone at Borispyl had called saying
my luggage had arrived, saying that all
I had to do was show up and claim
what was once mine for it to be
mine once again—

three weeks passed and I didn’t hear
a thing, started to think I could live without
it, started to think the life I lived before
had all been a dream. And then I
received a phone call, was told one bag
had been found, and even though
I felt nothing, I made the journey
back to the baggage claim’s
exit door, met a large man who spoke
little English, and went down one
floor to Lost Luggage where I found each piece, one
after the other, identifying the packaging through
thick plastic bags. I piled it all together, loaded
it up on luggage carts, could almost hear
my heart beating like a radio that had
been switched on inside a bag, could
feel my heart’s outline when I ran my hand
along the duffels, could see my heart for
what it really was when I held the loose
mountain bike wheel, felt the stickiness
of the rubber tires, spun it for just a moment
on its axis, my many-spoked heart,
O, the ventricles of the wheel, of the multi-
chambered rubber, and the beating
it takes when we ride as though
it will last forever, ride it as though
we will never lose track—

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About the author

Timothy Kercher has moved from Colorado to the Republic of Georgia and now finds himself in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he is currently editing and translating an anthology of contemporary Georgian poetry. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Crazyhorse, The Minnesota Review, Plume, upstreet, Versal, and others.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok