On Folding

Arisugawa Park, Tokyo 

By Nora

I ride the subway all day, rising from the station

and descending into it with rain-like breathing. 

For seventeen years, I have practiced folding 

and unfolding, first with paper,

then with myself. 

With each crease, I marked new miles

leaving familiar trees, bodies of water, and stars, 

then returned on the sparking wheels of a plane, 

folding myself back into the city where it started, 

counting the years I was away.

The city unfolded itself with hidden lights,

opening like a snow crane as it lifts one fanned wing 

while standing still in the mud. 

I had been content to watch a crane fly  

across winding rolls of paper, to live in scratches 

of gold-flecked pine, descending

to a corner far away, to stay put and not return 

to the place that left the deepest crease. 

All day, the subway bends and tracks these lines.

I descend back into glistening tunnels before I rise. 

Here is a small station behind a pond. 

I think I saw something in the center of it, 

sky white, and long-legged as it rained. 

Here is my life laid out and open for walking again. 

Nora is a poet and fiction writer based in Scotland. Originally from Maine, she was raised in Japan, Australia, and Romania, and has also studied in Italy, Ireland, and the UK. She has an M.Litt in Theology and the Arts from the University of St. Andrews and an MA in Creative Writing from University College Cork. https://norakirkham.tumblr.com/

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