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I have blindly loved places
as if they have souls,
lain with a bridge in the night
with its rivets of fire and
once allowed a skyscraper
to stroke my inner twilight,
dealt with latitudes and longitudes
like the axioms of their virtues

and it’s not beneath my heart
to love from afar,
to be casual with distance
and devoted to understanding
the muses that sustain their suns
even before I touch them

to read like lonely love letters
the photographs of places
clothed in seasons
and adorned with people
who paint the walls with emotion
and history and abstract
renditions of what it might
be like to see them naked
and much closer

to map out countrysides wrought
in whispers and eclectic boroughs
among fiery nerve endings
that commute passengers
from surviving to thriving
and back again

to try on street slang like tattoos
and dangers in the inner cities
like piercings on my
consciousness’ erogenous zones

to live vicariously within
delicate urban ecosystems
weaving the pangs of longing
into the woolly fabric of
whatever belonging
might mean

until there become places that
I visit for the first time
feeling like a coming home
or a long overdue return

until sleeping is just
switching places with strangers
for the chance to be a voyeur
into my own passion,
my absence and my hunger

until arrivals and departures
are indistinguishable, and
airports and train stations
are the moments I get reborn

until, finally, it reciprocates:
people to me become places,
and the world becomes I,
allowing me
a vivid taste of my own soul
and to hear again the calling
of my own name
for the first time

until the mere opening of doors
feels like both a tearing apart
and a rescue

“Follow Me to Udaipur, India” by photographer Murad Osmann


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