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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Number 268: Two by Josephine Miles "Travelers" and "Delay"


The little girl was traveling unattached, as they say.
Closed into her window-seat by a heavy
Business-man working on papers out of his briefcase.
From across the aisle another kept noticing
What help she needed, her travel-case latched.
Her doll righted, coloring-book straightened out,
And he kept leaning over across to assist her.
After a while the heavy-set man put away his papers,
Took out a small gameboard from his briefcase, and suggested,
How about a game of three-way parcheesi?

-- Josephine Miles


Well, ladies and gentlemen, the tinned voice of the pilot said,
We seem to be having trouble with the landing gear,
Which is why you hear this loud shaking sound.
We are therefore returning to home port, hoping to land
Without incident, will keep you informed.
The Stewardesses worked on equipment in their booth.
Then many of the ladies and gentlemen
Moved from where they sat in holiday or business absorption
Over next to some child and engaged
In a great deal of peaceful conversation –
Reminiscences of their own, sighs, questions of the children,
Till the gear
Jolted itself into landing, and the pilot
Came on again, to regret the inconvenience.

-- Josephine Miles

Hap Notes: These two poems have a bit of a similar theme – the care and protection of the young and the empathy of others in a child's circumstances. Some of the empathy, in "Delay", may also be a projection of the passengers' own fears as they talk to soothe traveling children. Sometimes being strong for another promotes one's own shaky courage.

In the first poem, a business man puts away his "business" to brighten the day of a child who is a fellow traveler. In the second poem, the travelers go to the children to ease their fears.

In both of these poems, Miles is seeking to illustrate that we are all fellow travelers on planet earth and that kindness and empathy are necessary for our comfortable survival. The poet observes that all these people find it both easy and necessary to put aside their personal agendas and thoughts to make traveling easier for a child.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we all recognized the child who resides within each one of us and treated each other with that kind of empathetic loving kindness?

As a quick side note: Did you know that Parcheesi is based on a 1500 year old Indian game called Pachisi? In India, before it was a board game (which was then adapted to an American board game) it was played by real humans. Members of the harems of royalty, dressed in their "royal" colors, would play the game in Pachisi gardens (see inset picture) on a paved surface. It's interesting to note in the first poem that in order to win Parcheesi, a player must get all his tokens "home." Some may remember that the Parchesi box used to say "The Royal Game of India" (which is how I knew this, by the way.)

Here is where we have talked about Miles before:

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