Go to your Norwegian friend’s house surrounded by geese.

Sit beside her on the couch.

Listen to her stories about Scandinavia.

Try to picture the sisters in those off-white swim caps.

 

Her mother is alone.

She’s a dancer with veins that show through thin skin on her neck.

When you’re older,

think of her when you write art history papers.

She has that big book on sculptures; look it when you get the chance.

 

The winged woman without the head —

made from marble.

Cry when you see the photograph.

 

Five years later, fly to Düsseldorf. Get on a train and then get off.

Even though it’s July, you will still feel cold.

Stand at the edge of the Baltic Sea and look to the north.

 

In your hand, hold a cup of fried fish —

A seagull will swoop down and steal half of it.

Your cousin will offer what is left of hers.

Let her fingers run through your seaweed hair.

 

After you leave this corner of the world,

you will spend years trying to collect people’s words

like those Cape Cod rocks you left at your father’s house in a red solo cup.

 

But voices, however beautiful,

aren’t meant to sit at the bottom of anything plastic.

 

As you look ahead — all the rocks of all the coasts behind you —

remember the loneliness you have known.

Remind again and again

that they can leave — one day, they can leave. They might all leave.

 

But that night in Berlin, lie down and take up the whole bed.