The gold frequencies of cicadas cinch up, then diffuse
their pressed bruises – you hear them throb through the taxi’s
cracked windows. So you leave town without the white oak swamp’s
humid incense, without its blessing, without telling
anyone. Sunday. You leave without a last banana milkshake with cinnamon,
without the alligator’s bleached grin in the antique shop – the skull
you’d saved for. Later, the girl next to you on the airplane nests
a white rat in a red mesh bag in her lap. After
the rattle of take-off she unzips the rodent and moans,
Lucky’s pierced his lip with his own tooth. You didn’t think you’d cry
leaving the heat that slept beside you each night, the man
and your shared apartment filled with his instruments, his bows
strung with the hair of horses – their follicled nocturnal
songs. You didn’t think you’d sob once but you can’t watch the rat’s lip
shiver its loose pink eyelet. You excuse yourself,
move through the yellow foot-lights
to the slim bathroom where the water
in the steel bowl swirls. It’s the bluest you’ve seen in years.
Copyright 2012 by Anna Journey
Though “Leaving Texas” is written in the second person, it seems especially personal. The speaker is outwardly demarking her impending separation by using “you” rather than “I,” though she is still internally tied to the man she leaves behind. The narrator’s experiences on the plane at first echo uncomfortably with her feelings surrounding this separation. But at the end of the poem, the blueness of the water in the steel bowl of the plane signals survival, healing, and a sort of transcendance of the pain.
“Leaving Texas” is a Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Contest for Virginia Writers Finalist, 2011-12. Journey received an NEA Grant for Poetry in 2011, and has published a book of her poetry, If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (Georgia, 2009). She presently resides in Venice, California.