Ode to a Leather Duffel of Long Service – Ralph J. Long Jr.

I marvel at the sand

spilling from your

stitching years after

I retired you to this

back hall closet. No

more taxis or jets or

nights where my

straining muscles

kept your buffalo hide

safe from icy salted

streets. I ignored your

heirloom worthiness,

dragging you across

uncounted borders.

Remember Chiang Mai,

Rome, Cape Town and

Manaus where grunting

porters hoisted your

overstuffed body onto

trolleys hoping for tips?

When luxe brands called

from airport boutiques

tempting me to leave you

for rolling wheels and

swivel handles, did you care?

Is life better as a

cedar scented repository

than as my neglected

adjunct? Vacations

offered no relief, sons

favored you as both

seat and pillow. At the

last, your edges frayed,

zippers lost teeth and

stickers marred your

fine pebbled finish.

Today, journeys do not

challenge the way ours

did. Your soft successor

needs coddling. As I swap

cotton sweaters for woolen

ones in your care, I hope

to be forgiven for your fate.

Ralph J. Long Jr. is the author of the chapbook, A Democracy Divided (Poetry Box, 2018). His work has appeared in the anthology Ambrosia: A Conversation About Food; Common Ground Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, Ursa Minor, Zingara Poetry Review, and other journals. He lives in Oakland California.