Walking Back to San Mateo

Saying goodbye is not the hardest thing. Actually
letting go was always my problem. I tried to
let go by simply walking away. I walked down the jetway,
I boarded the DC-10, I flew three thousand miles away
from it all. The peanuts were salty. Or
were they pretzels that time? It doesn’t matter now.
Now I walk back to it all, now I run back to some
of it. Sometimes my head is hanging down, I
murmur apologies. Sometimes I walk to the high school
track. I leave my black hightops in the bleachers, I
lace up my track spikes. The ground is parched,
the spikes crunch the earth as I run. A mile
later I pick out the pebbles with a stick.
Sometimes I walk around
Crystal Springs Reservoir. I open my arms
to the chestnut and fir. I open
my arms to the pine and eucalyptus.
I bend down to the dry grass, I put one
knee in the dirt, I listen for the rattlesnake,
I look for the gopher. I climb the hill,
now the end is near.
I find Castilian Way—it will always be my street—
I walk down it, I walk back to San Mateo.

© 1993 Wayne Pitcher

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