“Leaving Texas” by Anna Journey

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.

recent-meR. T. Smith has edited Shenandoah since 1995 and serves as Writer-in-Residence at Washington & Lee. His forthcoming books are Doves in Flight: 13 Fictions and Summoning Shades: New Poems, both due in 2017.