The Furthest Distances I've Travelled

The Furthest Distances I've Travelled

Like many folk, when first I saddled a rucksack,
feeling its weight on my back -
the way my spine
curved under it like a meridian -

I thought: Yes. This is how
to live. On the beaten track, the sherpa pass, between Krakow
and Zagreb, or the Siberian white
cells of scattered airports;

it came clear as over a tannoy
that in restlessness, in anony
was some kind of destiny.

So whether it was the scare stories about Larium
- the threats of delirium
and baldness - that led me, not to a Western Union
wiring money with six words of Lithuanian,

but to this post office with a handful of bills
or a giro; and why, if I'm stuffing smalls
hastily into a holdall, I am less likely
to be catching a greyhound from Madison to Milwaukee

than to be doing some overdue laundry
is really beyond me.
when, during routine evictions, I discover

alien pants, cinema stubs, the throwaway
comment - on a postit- or a tiny stowaway
pressed flower amid bottom drawers,
I know these are my souvenirs

and, from these crushed valentines, this unravelled
sports sock, that the furthest distances I've travelled
have been those between people. And what survives
of holidaying briefly in their lives.

'The furthest distances I've travelled' from These Days (Jonathan Cape, 2004), (c) Leontia Flynn 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1Naming It

2Acts of Faith

3For Stuart, who accidentally obtained a job in the Civil Service

4When I was sixteen I met Seamus Heaney

5The Second Mrs de Winter

6Without Me

7The Furthest Distances I've Travelled

8By My Skin

9These Days

10Casablanca, backwards

11Leaving Belfast


13Samuel Beckett

14Olive Shreiner

15George Orwell's Death

16Alfred Hitchcock

17Charles Baudelaire's Mother

18F Scott Fitzgerald

19Dorothy Parker

20Elizabeth Bishop

21Robert Lowell 1&2

22Saturday in the Pool

23A head for figures

24Our Fathers



27Poem for an unborn child

28Robert, The Painter

29The Day We Discovered Pornography Catalogues in the Mail

30The Bullfight

31Inside Catedral Nueva

Books by Leontia Flynn