You sit in the cupboard now, but I have carried you so far –
new models have more features, but none of the memories.
On our first trip your green was as rich as the New Zealand hills,
your purple bright as flowers. I carried you on mountain paths,
and fell backwards into a river onto you, waving my limbs like a tortoise.
From our second trip still remains the fading sticker from Vietnamese customs,
that never peeled off, but instead became a part of your fabric,
an incomprehensible tattoo, remembering hot days and drinking coconuts.
Our third trip was long – I carried you, and you were my pillow, my bed,
in a train station in Austria, an airport in England, a boat carrying me
from Ireland on a windy day, you catching my tears as we moved away.
By our fourth trip you were faded, and bore with good will long rides
on the tops of old Canadian school buses in Guatemala, absorbing the jungle mud,
the dust of the deserts of Mexico, Texas – you were constant and uncomplaining.
On our fifth trip your strap broke in Corsica, and I fixed you with a white bandage –
it held for five years, more brown than white, until I repaired you for our sixth trip,
and carried you north of the Arctic circle, to defend me from polar bears and ice.
You sit in the cupboard now, but your green and purple fabric holds the dust
of all our journeys, the sweat off my back from twenty years wandering –
I have carried you so far my sturdy canvas backpack, but I’ve never washed you.