Issue a5 · 2012



from In Between


by Erin Heath





I’m recording a year

like retracing a dream


I cannot distinguish between borders or the importance of the statues or palaces I visited,


not in the heat.



Not taking the time, in the heat, to make decisions


Places of relevance you’re supposed

to visit, riding the current of backpackers


We all picked up pamphlets, 200-word histories

of war and torture and barely read them.



The self, the person converting to traveler—disappearing


How can I be real in an unknown landscape?

if the people who know I am real

don’t know this place





I was weeding vegetable beds alone up on a mountain

tall dogs roaming around,

some of the staff living on the grounds of the property


acres and acres, dark brown horses startled me as they appeared and grazed in a field adjacent,


clouds began to form: thunder and rain, booming cracks.  I gathered the tools and hurried to the car, drove back down where it was sunny, where the rain never reached that day.


These clients preferred the “farm house” look:

we work the land into a definition of natural





Chronological time spent in a place: that time expands or contracts in memory according to the content of the experience, the emotions felt during the time, and the value of those to the self.





My mother and I drove to the photo shop in town.  I developed photographs from my trips, laid them in frames, hung them in my childhood bedroom.  Leaving physical evidence.


I volunteered to help carry her casket.  The only female.  Would she have suggested that a man take my place, given her generation?


I still suddenly remember I should call her.  I hear her asking me why I want to live so far away from home.





The months after I was in Manchester, my mind haunted its streets.


And while I was there, I wasn’t—


Is it an injustice to admit not being somewhere

because the events envisioned to happen there

did not?



A non-photograph returns:


I came upstairs wearing my favorite black dress. I expected him to look.  He was sitting on the couch.  He looked up, may have chuckled, said nothing.



When is a trip

a failure?


At what point is it named





Soon after returning to Vermont

I ate dinner with two women I’ve known a long time

They knew the names of the places I’d been


We ordered and they chatted about their jobs as if I weren’t there,

as if I were still in Asia


We had something in common: none of us understood

where I’d been





Boys string their arms through a fence, befriending me with such measured sweetness that I know they’ll ask for money.  In this way they aren’t kids—they know a disappointment they shouldn’t


we turn ugly


The passing judgment of /

on the landscape, the people in the landscape

then the self


the self losing its culture

by finding it


and wanting my body and my voice to matter there

as it might at home


The bus of tourists:


Browned skin, long limbs, backpacks, sun bleached hair, sandals,

the same dialogue in different accents


there was nothing unique about this trip, or this self










Erin H. Heath is currently working on a poetic / historical / photographic project about the old electric streetcar system of Oakland, California.  She’s been published in Samizdat, Birdsong and The Brooklyn Rail.  During fall of 2011 she had a book art exhibition at The Beethoven Center in San Jose, CA.  She is online at