Leave at 4 a.m., when you pass under the sleeping rooster
in the branches of the grapefruit tree
and the bakery is brewing coffee for the tourists.
Don’t drag your suitcase in the dark,
leave it behind for someone
who will treasure what you thought you needed.
Leave the hour the neighbors dream
and the half-moon floats
like a pearl behind a thin rainbow-cloud
Don’t look in the rearview mirror.
pour more water for the cat,
take the trash to the curb.
Trace your fingertips over the wound of poetry.
You could write a book – A handbook for leaving
like the time you didn’t pay your water bill,
Left a man in a tux bewildered and
forgot to tell him you weren’t returning,
My family was good at staying, at planting trees
they were the mortar in the brick,
the last coat of lacquer, they lived
where the avocado green drawer
held faded photographs with serrated edges –
proof that change happens even when you stay.
Still, my father bought a boat.
Still, my mother stared out the kitchen window,
Their hungry souls tethered to each other.
Sometimes we stay because it is our nature to go,
until even the perennials seem tired of blooming,
and the patterns of staying wore out the oldest wood
to break the spell of the nomadic ancestors.
You leave for all of those who couldn’t,
you rise out of their barely breathing bodies,
the earth’s magnetic field your compass,
The soon to be rising sun your map
Your ancestors celebrating you with morning stars.
Then you get practiced at leaving, flying over oceans
With ancestral wings and thousands of migrating creatures
You collect wounded mornings and wounded goodbyes
Like an animal whose point of migration
will some day also be his return.
Later you will sit at the base of a mountain.
at the edge of the vast sea.
more like the people who stayed than you ever knew.
You become the slumbering Hihimanu with clouds kissing its peaks.
You stare out the window at the woman leaving.
Open a suitcase to see what she left behind.