Walls we painted, shelves we built, floors we polished . . . "
[By "we" I mean Gerry!]
Suddenly your life is packed away
in boxes and the present
is no longer home
again. You think
I must never leave
any of this. You feel
like a great historical epic,
capturing every moment around
you: the turning of keys, the entering
into rooms, your hand resting comfortably
on the light switch.
And then you are going,
the faces of your friends growing small
as they wave in the rearview mirror,
the sign at the city limits saying
COME BACK SOON
Then you are past stopping.
You would like to think you know
where you're going --
the map marked, the road clear.
But how will you know
when you get there?
the signs all blank
on this side, the roads narrowed
to a fine black line
It may be you will never see any of this
again, coming suddenly bright
on the dark edges
of sleep. or perhaps in the early
morning hours of some future room you will sit down
to write all this and find
it is the letter from home you've been waiting for.
Joyce Barlow, American Poet
poem from The Chariton Review,
Fall 1977 (vol 3 no 2)
Since first reading Joyce Barlow's poem in 1977, I have never failed to feel like "a great historical epic" whenever the occasion calls for such; and I was delighted, more recently, by the similarity of Barbara Kingsolver's sentiment:
like rats leaping off the burning ship.
It hurt to think about everything at once:
our friends, our desert, old home, new home.
We felt giddy and tragic
as we pulled up at a little gas-and-go market
on the outside edge of Tuscon.
Before we set off to seek our fortunes we had to gas up,
of course, and buy snacks for the road.
from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
p. 2 (emphasis added)
For more poems about packing up and leaving, see
yesterday's new post on
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker