I arrived in Naples by bus. It had been a long, sweaty journey. The passengers were anxious to get off as soon as possible. Once out, we crowded around the luggage compartment, waiting for the driver to hand us our belongings. I was at the back, and by the time the driver got to me, my rucksack – a present from my father on completing my degree – was gone. Had someone taken it by mistake? Would there be some kind of lost-luggage place at the bus station?
The driver pointed me to a sign. It was at the top of a steep flight of narrow steps. Peering down, I saw someone in the shadows below. I started to descend.
When I was near the bottom, I thought I saw a man with my rucksack. ‘Hey, that’s mine!’ I shouted. He let go of it and waited. When I got closer, I realised I’d been mistaken. The rucksack was a strong blue like mine, but older, worn away, and grubby. ‘Sorry,’ I mumbled.
The man, who I could now see was dark and unshaven and wearing a filthy white shirt, didn’t even glance in my direction as he made his way past me and up the flight of steps.
I found myself alone in a poorly-lit, stone passage, stretching away for at least a hundred yards before curving to the left. It was strewn with old suitcases and rucksacks. Some of them were open with their contents spilling out, some were lying in puddles of water. It was impossible that any of these could be mine, but I walked down the passage in search of my rucksack.
Ian Seed’s collections of poetry and prose poetry include The Underground Cabaret (Shearsman, 2020), Operations of Water (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2020), and New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018), a TLS Book of the Year. His translations include Bitter Grass (Shearsman, 2020), from the Italian of Gëzim Hajdari, and The Thief of Talant (Wakefield Press, 2016), the first translation into English of Pierre Reverdy’s 1917 hybrid novel, Le voleur de Talan. Ian’s translation of Max Jacob’s collection of prose poems, The Dice Cup, is due to be published by Wakefield Press in 2022. Most recently, he has a chapbook, I Remember, out from Red Ceilings Press. Another chapbook, Geometries, is due out from LikeThisPress in July 2022. Ian is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Chester.
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