Each To Their Own – A Consolation

A poem for those who choose to travel the familiar homeland.  There’s a time and place for all types of exploration.


Consolation by Billy Collins

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

2 thoughts on “Each To Their Own – A Consolation

  1. I love this. This year is all about staycations for me… I am broke. But there is some consolation in knowing you are broke from following dreams, even if the dreams were not in Italy.

    At least I got many teas with Allison.

  2. I love the line “eager to eat the world one monument at a time.”

    can’t wait for my mini-staycation with you next week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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