My great pilgrimage gains momentum
in a Honda Civic on a highway turnpike
through a lengthy drive to the land of Michigan
with a particular stop at a travel plaza
for a franchise coffee and a franchise bagel
on the journey there. Just right it must be,
the faring out and its four hundred
and thirty miles. Thirsting for knowledge
with academics at the International
(amazing) Congress on Medieval Studies,
at last I arrive and unlock my room
— fit for a monk or a first-year student —
in a concrete cloister. Colleagues and friends
who are seldom seen are seen again,
all too briefly, as if in a dream.
Would some be closer if seen more frequently,
if endless roads or oceans vast
didn’t sunder us? I soak in the experience,
yet terribly busy is the time at K’zoo:
so much unseen, so much unsaid.
But the magic and mystery of the Middle Ages
shines forth once more, in a form of sorts,
in papers and panels, and with plenty of wine.
A strange bird I am, but for the stretch that I’m here,
I’m a little less of a lone outsider.
Renewed I am for my needful quests
as skald and scholar. The schedule, however,
soon comes to an end, and so comes the time
for the road of return. A red t-shirt
is my pilgrim’s badge, with a papal bull
as the central blazon. I’m soon back home,
in-between things in an outland realm,
a wilderness of sorts, where now it seems
a little more gray and my glowing lamp
is under a bushel. But onward I go
to new adventures and new strivings
and the going to K’zoo begins anew.
(Wow, what a wonderful time I had at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, despite the somber tone of this poem!)
Copyright © 2017 Eirik Westcoat.
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