by John RC Potter
I once spent three days driving through Italy,
yet the country was really driving me
not crazy, but somewhere I had never been.
I drove up a mountain, trying hard to keep up
with the crazy momentum of the cars ahead and behind,
so as not to fall off the edge.
There were three of us in that car:
my sister, my cousin and me,
on a journey that led us down a road
and onto and into ourselves.
I vowed never to return to Italy,
a country of such chaos and cacophony;
there is a price to be paid
for such mystery and history.
I recently spent three months on a journey with you,
a crazy rollercoaster ride
with no one at the controls.
The mountain I had to climb
alone, with you, was you;
you took me on a journey
you should have taken alone.
I tried to keep up with you
but your stories changed often
and I stumbled on the many masks
that fell from your face.
There were three of us that day
when you told me it was finito;
you, me and your daughter driving motionless,
as if in a dream.
I once said I would never return to Mussolini’s Italy,
that a country of such emotion
drains me of my energy, and yet I remember
Italy now, a sunny memory, a darkened photo;
it calls to me and won’t rest until I answer.
I promised myself that last day
that I would never see you again,
yet you appear in memory and in person:
real, unreal, surreal.
In the bar last night you were
half-dream, half-shadow, half-hidden,
as you always were and yet,
I want you as I want Italy.
John RC Potter is an international educator and gay man from Canada, who lives in Istanbul. He has experienced a revolution (Indonesia), air strikes (Israel), earthquakes (Turkey), boredom (UAE), and blinding snow blizzards (Canada), the last being the subject of his story, “Snowbound in the House of God” (Memoirist, 2023). When in high school John had the opportunity to interview the Nobel Prize winning author, Alice Munro, who resided in his hometown. It inspired John to begin creative writing, and is the subject of his story, “In Search of Alice Munro” (Blank Spaces, 2023; Bosphorus Review of Books, 2022). His poems and stories have been published in: Memoirist, The Stygian Lepus, Fireworks Story Magazine, Plenitude, Fiction on the Web, The Globe Review, Fragmented Voices, The Write Launch, Literary Yard, Down in the Dirt, Bosphorus Review of Books, The National Library of Poetry & Jabberwocky. Upcoming creative writing will appear in: Creatopia, Suspended Magazine, Wayward Literature and The Stray Branch. https://author-blog.org/