22 December 2012

Packing the Pack

Many seats ahead, a young woman with a skinny long trunk
stands on her seat to lift, one at a time, items rolled up tight
to pack into discreet pockets of her backpack.

Meticulous, slow, not a piece missed, a place for everything

and everything in its


Years ago, I might have ruminated on her youth and beauty,

her streamlined swimmer's musculature, how sinews covered
ribs, skin encased and hair over all

Today, the word "pack" drops into my conscious mind to caress

and to hold. I like it. I search "pack" through miles of gray
matter and find it satisfactory


Try to bounce, twist and confuse it, and it resists, keeping its

own stuffiness whether in a six-pack, an action (like packing a bag),
or a defensive move (such as packing a punch).

I sit here rubbing a bruised jaw, slap happy with this word I am

packing, while not packing a gun. Take that! Pack. Pack. Pack.
pac.pac.pac! Infinitely reloadable, the word lodges in the brain


Leader of the pack, guiding a pack mule into the Grand Canyon

to look for gold, then packing it out, maybe even moving on to
package it and

She is sitting now, her pack above her, only the top of her head

visible as the train leaves the station. Light brown hair. 

I wonder about her eyes. 

Posted for Poets United "Poetry Pantry #129" and for dVerse Poets Pub "Open Link Night--Week 76--Holiday Edition."
Submitted to Diverse/Boston Poetry Magazine contest July 17 2013 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast. 


aelfbee said...

I like to read dictionaries and learn and forget new words. But to have an everyday usable word ruminated on by a poet is even more interesting.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is very intriguing.........I could see her, and the narrator.......LOVE "I wonder about her eyes."

I love people watching too! Such fun!

Steve LaVigne said...

Have to agree the last line really pulls it all together and packs it in so to speak :-)

Anonymous said...

I like the ending very much. The whole poem captures the feeling of watching people on a train well.

Jinksy said...

Trains are ideal place to people watch - I loved the pensive, deliberate quality of your thinking here.

Grace said...

I like the focusing of the word, packing, reloading it, then the chewing and letting it flow within you ~

And observing people in the train is my kind of thing to do too ~

Brian Miller said...

this is truly magical...may even be one of my fav things i have read by you honestly...so well honed...great imagery, great rumination, really well paced...i like it much...i hope you had a great trip and a great time with fam susan

Semaphore said...

I've had this happen with me too, seeing someone and the mind focuses on one aspect that seems for that moment to encapsulate everything. The final line is perfect.

Laurie Kolp said...

I'm a people-watcher, too. I like the way you think through this... intriguing ending, too. Hope you had a great Christmas, Susan.

Anonymous said...

This is great. I love your closing line.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

A fun read, Susan. I do this a lot with words. They're like toys to me. Rummage around, find one in the bottom of the box that hasn't been played with for a while. Maybe make something new out of it.
I love to watch people too. Always trying to imagine their thoughts. Put my own in their heads sometimes. They'd probably be horrified to know what I think they're thinking. Ha! What fun!
Great poem!

Kathy Reed said...

Playful, observant and yet so human... individualistic with a comment on her lifestyle of her day, but the essence is in the not seen windows to the soul, the eyes ;) Happy Holidays to you.