Stroll-In-Florence
Youtopia
by Betsy Mars

My perfect journey: headless.
Heedless of my thoughts, mindful and mindless.
No should or woulds. No sense of unworthiness.
No thought for things done, or not done, or undone.

Strolling through places of beauty sublime,
greenest meadows or fern-floored forests,
leading to peat-filled distilleries where they make
small batches of nectar, transcendent
on craggy outcrops at the end of continents,
with no risk of falling off. No acrophobia or claustrophobia.
No phobia. Safe treks down dry-boned paths
littered with shards of domestic pottery
where the volcano blew
             Life in pieces.

Or time travel to the past, clearing dark places
mined with trigger spots and wrongdoings:
Poorly handled breakups or ill-advised makeups,
child-rearing disasters: the nucleus of neurotic reactors,
defused.

Then celebratory trips to champagne caves, riding on riverboats
where movement and stillness coexist. Sober and intoxicated,
as the bank flows by. Or through Rousseau jungles
plentiful with beasts and wildness.
Safari tents are filled with soft scents and the sense of being
embodied in a distant place where light doesn’t leach
away the black from the sky,
and the vast spread of stars is revealed,
terrifying, humbling, and alive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE IMAGE:  Rather than an actual photo of me on vacation, my poem features a painting by Dave Devenot of the Hawaiian Watercolor Society. He created this based on a photo taken by his wife when we were in Florence many years ago. That’s me in the jeans and red top. I thought, given that my poem is more of a wish fulfillment/fantasy take on the theme, perhaps a painting, being more unrealistic, would capture the feeling more accurately.

betsy mars

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this photo taken in April at LACMA (L.A. County Museum of Art), I am lifting the weight of the world. I am recently starting to  feel myself lightening a little and am hoping to have a more Chagall-like future filled with flight, color, music, and fantastic creatures. Not to mention lots and lots of travel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a poet who lives in Southern California.