“Woman at a Window,” oil on canvas, by Casper David Friedrich, 1822.

by Suzi Banks Baum
after Lorna Crozier

Take a deeper breath,
the kind that quiets your belly
when you stand on the cliff’s edge of a new now.

When you release it, notice
mayflower and trillium
though you won’t pick them, kneel
and inhale your grandmother’s
story in mossy woodland air.

Slip in to your pocket the color of tangerine
and a bit of candied ginger, a tiny book
of poems written by love dogs and witches.
Trust the seams of your coat, but close the snaps
lest fierce winds rage.

Carry with you a brown paper sack, for its
utility as hat and holder of peaches.
In it one pair of clean underpants, Carter’s and pink,
and a small spool of ribbon for
there is always cause to celebrate.

Pause to square the rugs and plunk out
one more rollicking hymn so that the choir
carries your mother’s voice with you,
no matter what the weather,
now sings my soul.

On your feet slip boots that have been mired
in defeat over a pig sty, that have plucked steps
over river rocks limned in the call of a brown headed parrot,
that have waited upon congressing salamanders
on a snow cleared forest floor and know,

that no matter what comes, it is your breath

and the space in between,

where light comes in.

Here morning returns after blackened night,
a friend offers high safety when you least
expect it, a blue stone, a song about the moon,
and a linen hankie for necessary tears.

Lean only on sunshine, sleep in trees,
live by the sound of your heart.

“Instructions For Travel” originally appeared in Great, a collection by After Magazine.


Suzi Banks Baum is a writer, maker, teacher, and mother. She’s passionate about helping women find their creative voices and live focused, joy-filled lives. You can find her work in Rebelle Society, TheMid, Literary Mama, MotherWriterMentor, Mothers Always Write, and on her website, suzibanksbaum.com.