I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

28 February 2008

Leaving the Island

For Lorenzo

Boarding the plane to Elsewhere,
you don’t always know that this
is exactly what you are doing.
Though you dreamed it all your life,
you can’t quite understand
it’s here, you are setting out now
on that particular journey. You think
you might come back.

Yet your curved Aikido sword
sleek and polished in the slim sheath
is laid inside your case,
and you have your copy of Yeats.
They are wrapped in silk and velvet
and padded round with your clothes.
In your hand luggage you carry
the Japanese Tarot deck.

You’re cleared for departure,
making a clean getaway.
Nothing is stashed in the lining,
nothing strapped to your body.
Your toothpaste, your hair gel,
your insect repellent, your juice
are all in their safe, transparent
anti-terrorist pack.

You are crossing the great water.
Ancient messages float far beneath,
forgotten, in their green bottles.
You are breaking through cloud.
Prayers on scraps of paper
are tied in the locks of your hair.
At touchdown, the destination
is not the one you expect.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2006


Linked (several years later!) to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #291


  1. Mysterious. Lots of questions flow from it...

  2. I really love how you focus on those items following you, well prepared for what? The sword and poetry is such an interesting combination.

  3. Prayers on scraps of paper
    are tied in the locks of your hair.

    Such a lot of poignant power in this poem especially the closing lines which leave us to wonder what could have happened near destination. Powerfully expressed!

    Lots of love,

  4. Oh nice ending..intriguing!

  5. Elsewhere always holds promise - and a desire to be there..but when we get there i suppose it is no longer the 'else' just another place where we are who we are...so many images that made me smile - the sword and copy of Yeats (what else do you need) and 'Prayers on scraps of paper are tied in the locks of your hair' - magic

  6. a journey can have some amount of mystery whether it's a known destination or unknown...

  7. We are beginning to fear such travel where even short distances are fraught with possible dangers. Mundane items could be weapons; that might be a tourist or terrorist in front of you; a delay may be a disaster to avoid. Yes, tourism is fun.

  8. Such an intensely woven valediction, a very fine piece.

  9. Was it thus and was it so? This poem makes me understand the stashes in pyramids, the hopes on farewell that the unknown is a new kind of knowing. Beautiful.

  10. When one is 'cleared for departure' one always leaves with hope in one's heart, I think. It sounds as if this person is prepared for some kind of new beginning. The last stanza leads me to believe that the poet knows the answer...and that there are surprises to be found on landing. Perhaps this is metaphoric as well. We never really know where we will land in life. We can never be totally prepared, but we hope that what we have 'packed' in our 'case' will prepare us wherever life takes us.

  11. Love that we learn so much about the subject and about the speaker's feelings, from her description of the subjects belongings and appearance. And the imagery, the way they are weaved in the telling of the tale... just fantastic.

  12. I read this as a final departure, and it is so beautifully described...........especially in "You are crossing the great water. Ancient messages float far beneath." This is absolutely glorious writing, Rosemary. Wow.

  13. I appreciate the composition of expectation/preparation and outcome, exactly like Tarot...
    Ah,we need to live in the moment....

  14. "Cleared for departure" does not always guarantee the destination. I like the description in this from the perspective of the narrator. I hope Lorenzo found a good destiny.

  15. Very interesting poem, Rosemary! Talking about a journey thus potentially opens enclosed minds to at least reflect on the situation and step out to see a larger pattern. So beautiful...

  16. And this speaks to me of a final departure...so poignant (so over used but so true in this case). The sword, the prayers on scraps of paper, the Japanesee Tarot deck...things I would like to take with me on my final journey. Journeys seem to be the theme lately - maybe the changing of seasons?

  17. Every trip has the potential to be a bit of a mystery. Your particular vision and language endowed this one with many distinct and imaginative dimensions. Transforming the common into something magical.
    Steve K.

  18. You have created a journey of mystery traveling with all the things you would need or you would want to bring, seems a taste of the past and present woven as one. Many images and thought you have created here. Excellent write

  19. Taking to the skies is always a bit mystical and magical...I found the tarot deck interesting and prayers on scraps of paper..breaking through clouds..the last time I flew I saw a circular rainbow I have heard about them but, I have never seen one. It was truly amazing.

  20. I love the mystery and adventure that comes through so powerfully in your words.

  21. The ending is unexpected. It could be a positive one, or a not so good ending. You let your readers decide here, Rosemary which is a good way of encouraging us to think.

  22. The writing flows like a premonition, although it is a nostalgic journeying back to a time of letting

    Have a nice week Rosemary

    much love...

  23. sounds like a good adventure. :)

  24. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments. I think I'll leave this one somewhat mysterious. :)

  25. I love that you tied your prayers to locks of your hair. No you never know.

  26. Eloquent and intriguing ... I envision the piece perched (printed in some kind of antiquarian font) as the prologue to a delicious mystery.

  27. Hmmm playing a little Alfred Hitchcock... well done :)

    1. This reminded me of something from the past. An older woman said, speaking of parenting, that from the time your child is born, until they leave, you spend your time packing their suitcases with all the things you are sure they will need. When it is time for them to leave, they might open that suitcase, might take a small thing or two but leave most of it behind as they waltz out the door.