Kris T Kahn

Travel & Transitioning


Travelling, you realise that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents…
– Italo Calvino

Any progression, whether by aeroplane or steam engine, deserves a sense of reflection.  Perhaps it is no coincidence that the two words are not quite as dissonant as one might expect, despite their not fulfilling the demanding rigours of poetic form.  When I pass through the tunnel, when all goes black, it is the moment before everything else—it is the moment before language in which I learn that touch (sheltered by shadow) is the primary instinct.  It is the moment in which I mourn you most for the fingers on my own hands are nothing like the calloused ones on yours; the touch is an anachronism, it does not work because we did not work.

At least this is what the sudden delve into blackness tells me.

The sudden lamp-posts emerging; the flicker of life in gas vapours along the sidelines of the track.  There was none of this; there was none of that.  I think of where I once was (wherever it is I happen to be coming from, returning from) and where I belong—which is not the same as my destination but which, things being as they are, I must name as such.

How can I name something as my own when you are no longer mine?

The unsaid cry echoes through the aeroplane or the train, its cabins bustling with what-ifs as though whatever I might cry out in the darkness—those things I cannot say in the light of morning with another body beside me; those things I cannot say to you in the light of day as the dead must always have their rest—seems contagious.  The others, if there happen to be any others, shudder and jolt.  It is not because of the captain or the driver.  There is actually a sudden shift of air; no one can breathe—the sense of drowning becomes close, closer, until we all realise that we’ve moved.

Moving does not imply anything involving possessions.  It is not the scuffling of furniture—this is yours and this is mine—along the already-cracked wainscoting.  Moving is not moving at all, and the aeroplane and the steam engine know this as well as you and I.

Moving is remaining stationary, keeping you harboured in the safety of a travel valise.  Moving is sensing danger, keeping you quiet from my oppressive lover.  Moving is keeping the ashes close to me in case I happen upon a body of water that resembles the one you saw in flames.

There will be no other.  I am not sure what you want me to do but I am absolutely certain of what it is you need.  And so I go on.  The cities change their names, their languages, their symbols, so that everything looks hieroglyphic—except for the sensation of touch: my fingers on your cheap pine box.  My heart wrapped somewhere in that plastic bag even though I carry it through tunnels—of night and of day—to do your bidding.

I always will.  And you will it so.  The sense of place determines how I feel but I promise you, wherever you are, that it is never different from the first moment.  No.  I swear.

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