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'Smartraveller' by Tracy Ryan

September 2016, no. 384

'Smartraveller' by Tracy Ryan

September 2016, no. 384

Just knowing those colours makes it safer
already and how they'll change anyway by the time
you, thirteen now, are old enough for elsewhere:

RED ORANGE YELLOW GREEN but not about weather
except for extremity and those are most finite
and fickle, cyclones though murderous rarely durable

as human cruelty. Where are you going?
the site prompts but you choose Browse countries
then List all countries, then run the current date –

not to miss anything – every day you check them
like a thing growing in the mind's garden
that needs tending, a world of worrying

for others under some degree of mastery; keep track
of flare-up, pandemic, earthquake, and ask me
sidelong, to define civil unrest, safety and security

though these are terms you know, as if rehearsing,
as if there could be something more the words don't
indicate, a further shade in my palette till now

held back, but I can only disappoint, being arms'-length,
and listen my best as you list the ten tallest mountains
while we head for the school bus because last night

and all this week it was Nepal, and pulling your quilt
around you to ready for sleep was rugging up
for Everest, and before that, another land, one day.

Tracy Ryan

Tracy Ryan won the Peter Porter Poetry Prize in 2009. Her latest collection is Hoard (2015).

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