The girl who circled the world traveled sometimes by water, sometimes by wind, arrived always lightly carrying nothing but what she knew, departed again when she had delivered it all. If they were wrong, the lessons she taught, she taught wrong lessons well. Once she arrived with a boy and left with a man, but mostly she left the men behind; more often than not she outran them. The minute she knew what a man was about, or a country, she wanted to test what she’d learned on the next one. She broke the hearts of several civilizations, but not mine. Startlingly blond she was, and short and strong, with reflective eyes that picked up their color from whatever she was near. Her voice, too, sang the music of her newest neighborhood, but rang with deep echoes of everywhere she’d been. Her passport might have been issued by Earth. I met her in Kamakura. She’d just arrived from Kingston; the English she had learned to organize a Jamaican mango cooperative she was now teaching to Japanese businessmen at the Literary Museum night school. De one bud in de hand beats de two bud in de bush, she taught them. I thought she was an idiot. But six months later, I had to flee to keep from being the one who was left behind. Neither I nor cellophane-thin Japan could have kept her. We didn’t offer enough surprise. She didn’t travel to discover that home is where the heart is; she didn’t travel to discover anything at all. The one time we’ve seen each other since, accidentally, on the continent, I told her she travels like a bee spreading pollen. I thought she might sting me. Instead I got that smile that makes me wish I could keep her interested.

Copyright © September 29, 2007 David Hodges