Catherine Ormell

Travel Clinic

To arrive properly, you should unpack properly,
relax any ideas of home. I know this!
And yet our suitcases are half-unzipped and buzzy
with alarm clocks sunk low in jumpers.

A rented week away in a cottage—
but it feels extravagant to just look and be
as rainclouds shell a placid lawn.
Lacking the turnarounds of just a day,
the superstructure of frenzy and fret,
we are as much strangers to ourselves,
as if we sported ringlets and jabots.

But why make a Battenberg from socks on the sofa?
Because you think the chest of drawers funereal?
And why throw a honeysuckle sprig
out of the window? Of course,
it was never going to give off any real warmth.

When we get up, finally, and start packing for home,
days which shone like votives leave no traces.
A stranger will flick the curly lambskin free of crumbs,
and with a spray of pomegranate despatch us far
beyond the reach of country mercies.
The greenish cologne that simmered in draughts,
that said Summer!’ is no cure,
though it is sent after us, belatedly.

Catherine Ormell

Travel clinic