Halfway through our time there it was late
and we were changing trains at Kanpur
when we lost Leo who’d been with us ever since.
It was not even that crowded when we got back
with tea and sweets he’d been watching the bags which were
where we’d left them but he was not.
It was late. Each of us, it turned out,
was suddenly missing something—Veda, pen, pot, scarf,
beads—that seemed, when it went missing, trivial
but became, over time, of vast importance
the way Leo went from quiet guy to lost guide late at night
on the platform in Kanpur when we were changing trains.
What had seemed reliable and in place, what we had come to know,
what, despite being so bizarre as to be beyond imagining when we set out,
had become familiar, and this, that had become familiar, turned on us,
on us and not away from us, and Leo was the first to go. It began with Leo.


Published in:
The Beloit Poetry Journal, Vol. 64, No.3 (Spring 2014).