I forgot a pair of earrings
by Christine Kouwenhoven

in Rome. I think I left them on the
black lacquered night table of the hotel by the Spanish steps.
I liked them, gold with tiny pearls.

What I remember most about Rome
were the ochre and amber hues, the soft light,
the sense that not all is lost but rather that
someday it will be revealed.

On that trip, we wandered the streets after dark.
They wound around and around, cobblestones
glowing in the street light, and everywhere
there were people, laughing and drinking.
For a few hours, we let ourselves belong.

Then we moved on. We’ve been many places together.
Some better than others.
There is a familiarity to traveling that is comforting.
The white towels in the hotel bathrooms.
The kiosks with water and t-shirts and postcards.
The standing in line to see what must be seen.
The birds, gulls or pigeons or sparrows, foraging,
flickering at the edges of the photograph.

But we go to find what is different.
To shake off the blues of our routine. To make memories.
In this garden, a flower we’ve never seen.
In that museum, a beautiful painting that isn’t in the textbook.
A view that can’t be overlooked.
Dinner, together, by candlelight. The local specialty.

When we move on, a trinket, a token will come home with us.
As if we could save ourselves from losing this, or anything else.

I forgot a pair of earrings

in California. I think I left them on the
wicker and glass vanity of the hotel by the Laguna cliffs.
I liked them, silver with a sliver of striated stone.

What I remember most about California
was the blue-green Pacific Ocean after the clouds cleared,
the sunshine scattering diamonds in a sparkling line to the horizon,

the sense that anything could yet be discovered
if only we let ourselves go.

PHOTO: The author hog-wild in Italy.


Christine Kouwenhoven
lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband and three growing kids. She works as Director of Communications at Baltimore School for the Arts, a public arts high school. Christine has an M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She shares poems and reflections regularly on her blog poempost.wordpress.com. Recently she’s had essays published by The Mid, Grown & Flown, and the Baltimore Fishbowl and has poems due in Mothers Always Write and The Poetry Box.