Ecdemomania, Holly Day

Dale Champlin, Bird Flight, Collage, 2019



the leaves fall from the trees and I find that my shoes
won’t come off. I go out to get the newspaper, feel the chill on my face and
I don’t know where I am. Overheard, birds forge ahead with such determination
that I feel inspired to follow them south.

traffic snarls at me as I stumble after the birds, newspaper clutched
in my hand, bathrobe barely knotted closed. I would tell them
if they’d only roll down their windows and turn off their noisy car heaters
that I have learned something new this morning, that

there is no reason to stay here in a place
that will soon be covered with snow, that we
can follow the paths laid out by buffalo and deer to safety,
that being able to sleep beneath the stars in the middle of December
without fear of frostbite or death
is worth losing all the ridiculous things our real lives have to offer.

Holly Day


Review by Paul Willis

Of course, I had to look up the meaning of ecdemomania, a word I had never encountered before.  It is “the compulsion to go outside, to wander, to travel.”  As such, it is the perfect title for the poem, in which the speaker goes out to get the newspaper, notices birds flying south for the winter, and impulsively decides to join them on foot, following the trails of deer and buffalo.  I love the fact that her newspaper is still clutched in her hand and that her bathrobe is “barely knotted closed.”  Is the traveler foolish or wise?  Whatever the answer, for the moment we side with her. 

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