Ways of Seeing


Ways of Seeing  by Nancy Schatz Alton

I understand the instinct to move away

a one-way train ticket to an unseen city

no one to compare myself to

a new grid to learn

bus routes & waterways

coffee shops & croissants

to see the mountains & realize

I didn’t know the mountains

would be visible from my street.


Decades in I remember the awe

of not preparing, of only knowing

I had a free place to stay.

The triple-daily phone calls

to a friend fall away, the real fear

at making a place a home

while knowing my old home

no longer sufficed

I left my ghosts behind.


Decades in I have new ghosts

people who see me one way

people I see one way

it takes such energy

to break out of familiar thinking

to know I don’t know

my imagination is limited

by history

people travel to see something new.


Wait, listen: You are not my old friend.

The mind is plastic

like taffy, I can pull it into new shapes

all the people I see

can be new

can be not a box but an arc

forever becoming

this is my new(old) city

let’s learn a green grid: hello.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *