The Ways We Leave

by Jerard Fagerberg


I.       We leave in love
          best memory forward
          best foot backward
          telling ourselves in tapdance
          we were perfect back there
          and those people,
          those people were saints
          even if they hardly ever acted like it
          Saint Richard, Patron Saint of The Long Night
          Saint Cole, Patron Saint of The Almost Answer
          and Saint Katherine, well,
          it really is a shame what happened with her
          Still, our precious gems are nine
          one each for our sacred eyes
          one glowing in the space between gulf and Cancer
          five more from the river
          and the one holy gem of Ramkhamhaeng
          lofted eternally in the temples of our mind
          A city given by Bancha and built by Martin
          Residence of the many drunken Buddhas
          asleep in their neon palaces
          cooing for last night’s ritual
          The city of angels
          who fly low and are always close
          We will miss how often
          they appear before us

II.      We leave in regret
          For the things we have done
          and those we wished we had not
          For women we loved
          and those we should not have
          For the very fact there are places to leave
          and to be left
          We have been told many times
          that just because you remember a city
          does not mean it will remember you
          And we are not careful
          in the way that we care
          It is not because we are foolish
          it is because we find no trouble in being fools

III.     We leave staggering
          one Last Night at a time
          breath like winebarrels
          celebrating our own temporality
          with the clanging glass, red to the ears
          carted off to the airports by angry drivers
          we shout with our throats opened by fear
          cut wildly loose for the first time
          for the last time
          Where we stand defiantly,
          scream they can’t make us leave
          though they will
          if it takes two of them
          if they have to carry us through to the gate
          And we always do leave, in the end,
          with a vigilant promise for oneday return
          which is more hangover forgotten
          than any lover’s name

IV.     We leave in tearful baptisms,
          leashes of draining mascara
          rappelling to the chin
          so we may climb back to your eyes
          crashing into the arms of the others
          trying to hold moments close at bay
          for one last everything
          before we are christened transient
          We would take your kiss with us
          onto the runway
          through clouds and across the jetstream
          keep it in a pocketwatch;
          safe, like Time,
          if only we knew how
          to do anything forever

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