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Alberta Clipper: 3/31/15: “The Sweetest Journeys Home Are in the Mind” by Dan Jaffe

In the spring of 1959, the Dalai Lama fled the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, beginning a trying journey over the treacherous terrain of the Himalayas in search of safety. On March 31st, he crossed the border into India, where he was welcomed with refuge and asylum. Meanwhile, on that same day in 1959, Lincoln, NE, was hit with strong thunderstorms and high winds topping out at 20 mph while the editors at Prairie Schooner worked tirelessly on the Spring Issue, which included work by one of Nebraska’s own, Dan Jaffe. Jaffe has been a notable poet in the literary world for more than thirty years, but Jaffe made this Prairie Schooner appearance fifty-six years ago while working as a professor in the UNL English Department, with a poem titled “The Sweetest Journeys Home Are in the Mind.” This sentiment rings especially true in the case of the Dalai Lama, who ventured for fifteen days before finally arriving safely in India—not, perhaps, his home, but at least, a place to rest. — Mariah Reicks

Dan Jaffe
The Sweetest Journeys Home Are in the Mind

The sweetest journeys home are in the mind,
Travels full and restful as they wind
Flowing to the moment of return
By banks that seem more green around each turn.

Those upstream days all curve in a long grin
That widens with each story to begin,
And rough-edged rocks embedded once in grit
Have become polished stone conglomerate.

Still, I remember wishing it be soon,
The impatience of a Sunday afternoon,
The station thick with travelers, soot, and flies,
I fled my fussing family’s goodbyes.

But now, in another city, days still drone,
A stir of bees around an empty comb.
So once again I settle in a train,
Reflections mingling in the windowpane.

Hello’s, goodbye’s, are only rituals.
They mist the shrinking summer into fall.
Sweep past the moist green fields, the structured stone,
Measure the miles that wither quickly home.

After the tears, the kisses, the shaking hands,
The recitations of unfamiliar plans.
All the forgotten hurts and dreams played back,
Upstairs in my room, finally I unpack.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Spring 1959)


The Alberta Clipper is a biweekly gust of history—brushing the dust off of a poem from our archives and situating it in the current events and local Nebraskan weather reports of days gone by. Explore the Alberta Clipper archives here.

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