I have softened the hurt with milky tea and roses. With beer in green glass bottles. With airplane gin. With red wine, the oak lingering on a lover’s tongue segueing to the morning’s kisses and espresso. I’ve softened the hurt at my mother’s kitchen table, in the company of Iowa songbirds and in my daughters’ cars on I-80, and the Lincoln Highway. I’ve softened the hurt lying on the floor with dogs, around the Monopoly board, with a handful of Canasta, and breathing in the dark with a grandchild in the crook of my arm. The hurt, the hurt. The hurt of a bed too wide wrestled and lost to dirt trails and ragged steps cut out of mountainsides leading to blinding white chapels high above the Aegean. The hurt lost to ancient stones and bridges spanning dark waters, to blizzard and dessert, to lake and plain. I am a traveler now, and the hurt tried to find me but I'm the one who is finding, finding, finding.