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  • There are papers on the kitchen counter
    Papers on my desk at school
    Papers going back and forth
    Papers in folders and binders
    Lists of papers:
    These need to be filled out,
    These go to the sworn translator,
    These go for the fancy red ribbon and seal for the Hague Convention certification,
    These need to be scanned and copied
    These need to be witnessed
    These I am afraid to throw away
    These are the originals
    These the copies (does scanned count?)
    These are stamped
    Somewhere there is a table of all the papers to be submitted
    All in good and proper order

    Visa applications to the Spanish Consul General require
    Identity established in 30 by 30 mm color photos
    There must be four
    Plain white background
    Face centered
    Please don’t smile sir

    At the clinic, the doctor squinted at the form
    Her mission?
    Swear that I was not packing plague or other infectious diseases.
    A whole new dimension to carry-on.
    The patient is generally healthy, she wrote.
    I smiled but not broadly as mental health was also on the list.
    Can you put that on letterhead? I asked,
    hoping I didn’t sound paranoid or delusional.
    She tore off a page from her prescription tablet.
    I attached it,
    but the consulate general warned that:

    “Documents must obtain the stamp of approval from the relevant Professional Council before being submitted for the Apostille de la Haye seal.”

    Off they went to the National Health Professionals Council.
    The blood work and the TB test results came in a few days later

    At the police station I waited until the officers at the desk stopped their banter and their flirting
    long enough to wave me vaguely down the hall.
    Two offices and four forms later a chunky sergeant held my hand
    Pressed my fingers in the oily ink
    Rolled each digit to get a full set of prints
    Four weeks later they came back
    I was clean
    At least criminally

    Bank statements and contracts, return tickets and travel insurance,
    all attest, my presence in the Kingdom of Spain will be no burden on the Republic

    (so which is it, King or Republic?
    there I go, asking questions,
    one of the paper about filing in papers - or presenting papers after they have been filled out - warned about that
    be humble, smile, be patient. I wonder where I put that one.....)

    Quotes and packing lists from the moving company
    A life sorted room by room
    Values neatly attached
    To every item
    Value low for import/export, the agent warned
    Be careful not to under-insure the instructions warn

    On the kitchen counter
    the lilies you bought
    open and stretch back their petals
    inviting, enticing
    in piles,
    neatly clipped and stacked,
    labeled and categorized,
    certified and sealed,
    verified and valued
    our life waits
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