By Anita Tanner


Some people move away without leaving—

when you see them you can’t tell

where they are.

Others accompany their parting

with angry words—

you don’t discern the silence inside.

You’ve seen them crying in the bedroom

behind locked doors

or standing at the kitchen sink

as if they were present,

their eyes holes turned toward you.

Morning and night a palm of pills

may take away a certain few,

others refuse medication.

Someone’s wife wants to leave after dark

but ends up sleeping every day instead.

Some work hard to seam up their souls

with threads of sleep

but their minds weary the weave

like sleeves unraveling.

Some leave by touching too much,

in the wrong places, with the wrong people.

Some never touch,

losing even the feel of keys, coins, pebbles

from deep pockets of grief.

Some pack every day just in case,

then unpack or leave a full suitcase

under the bed or just run out the door,

nothing but arms and legs.

You can holler all you want, Don’t leave,

but the moving will go on

even after they decide to stay.