archives, poetry

Another Word for Lost. {poetry}


I am neither a great traveler nor an accomplished settler.

I am forever hording books and little gifts from nature before having to clear the debris of my life to make room for an easy getaway. I am a wandering paradox, collecting things for the home I have not found. The journey so far has been astounding and I have seen much. My bravery was always a bigger beast than I imagined.

Sometimes I left a place because it was a Monday and the dreariness of the day ahead seemed impossible to me. Movement and youth are glorious bedfellows, but I am long past the age where restlessness looks romantic. I long to roost and feel the protective wing of a community.

I am tired and searching for a place to nest.


She packs her hand-beaten silver jewellery
brightly coloured fabrics, in a battered pack
a dog-eared copy of Whitman poems
essential, like toothpaste
she likes to think of herself as gypsy
a nomad, a buoyant vagrant
thirsting for adventures
in truth, she is none of these things
she is a piece of driftwood, washed up, wedged
between sand dunes until the next King tide

She can say “thank you, that was delicious”
and “how many children do you have”
in seven languages but she has never had the conversation
that she aches for in her mother tongue
nobody asks “how is your threadbare soul traveling”
or “how do you experience the godliness of this incarnation”
and so she keeps moving, because that is what she knows

In visits to her homeland, her loved ones chide her
“why do you keep running away from your problems”
never understanding that it is the running away
that is the only problem
for her, finding a home is like finding God
others do it just fine, but she would like some proof
and so she wanders aimlessly, searching and longing
longing for home, searching for God
searching for home, longing for God

Listen, this is me and this is not me
I found a home of sorts, many times over
and a mate patient and resourceful enough
to keep the forward thrust of movement
and empty boxes, just in case
movement, air, sand, grace
in the wily core of my being
there is a nomad soul
nomads feast at the table of life
fresh dates, pomegranates, honey
but the tax is high
they pay in friendships and connections
every hello followed with a goodbye
they know loneliness like a friend
There will be times they long for a dwelling
something to call home, cut flowers, paintings strung
they will fan out their collections
nests, poems, feathers and stones
it will look like a home but they will look around
and think, this is not it, and it will be time to go
Nomad is another word for lost

Listen, this is me and this is not me
I found a slither of home
in the yeasty smell of my partner’s neck
I found a slither of home when his grandchildren
draped their little selves across our solid bodies
and plaited our hair like loving monkeys

I found a slither of home
at the rim of the Indian Ocean, her body boundless
sand beneath my feet like a welcome mat
I found a shepherd to share the path
sturdy enough to weather my storms
sometimes he guides, sometimes he follows

Listen, this is me
a nomad with a loyal shepherd
small slithers that feel like home
a longing for God
and so we pack the silver, the fabrics
the twigs, nests, stones
we keep searching
and longing.


Bell Harding is a Rumi-loving painter, late bloomer, and poet from Australia. Her home is a vintage caravan called Lou Lou, which likes to roam but is currently stationed in Fremantle, Western Australia, while she tries her hand at civilian life. Bell has a degree in fine art, and loves to paint barefoot in the dirt. She seeks beauty, wisdom and adventure in the landscape, and looks for the small poetry in daily life. In her expanded moments, Bell loves to paint, cook plant-based food, and write pretty poems with sharp little teeth. You could contact her via Instagram.


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