Jane Elder Wulff


As the years pass, as I ride this train, watching
days and weeks go by outside the window
(everything the same in here, unchanging,
only a little shaky from time to time),
I begin to feel that I am carrying
Death’s suitcase.

This bag of flesh, blood and bone, containing
the news and means of my destruction, goes
with me everywhere, unassuming, inevitable.

Sometimes I set it down and walk away from it,
and there it sits alone on the platform, but only
temporarily. No one ever picks it up. Of course
I always go back for it, and then I keep it by me,
next to me in the empty seat, near at hand in the
dining car, always closed.

Strangers make conversation, and no one asks
about Death’s suitcase. No one ever says, “Well,
what’s in the suitcase?” And I never bring it up.

It bears its tags and patches, its scuffs and scars
to show where it has been, and it grows stiff
with wear, and more dignified. I would not be
without it now, for love nor money.
You will not catch me
leaving it behind.



Jane Elder Wulff was born in Florida and lived in the South until age ten, when her family moved to Pullman, Washington. She attended Antioch College, received a B.A. in English from Washington State University, and came to Vancouver, Washington in 1967 with an M.A. in English and Creative Writing (the first such combined degree offered by WSU) to teach English at Clark College. From 1988 to 2012 she worked full time as a freelance writer for clients and regional publications to support her own work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Currently she is concentrating on her own work.

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