On Leaving Home

We all need exile once
in a while: actual
or inner, no matter.

We need to be far
from what matters, what-
ever is the matter.

To be clear, the former
and the latter have to do
with the mother and the timber

from which we’re made. I,
for one, have elms—for
forts, for sprinting under—

at my center, meaning
also Dutch Elm and canker.
As for the mother, she did

what she could and did
despite the weather:
the gray light, the cloud cover.

I was a foreigner
in a print Neverland
at first; only later

was it actual: new
cities, new coasts. Nowhere,
of course, was I able

to forget the fretted agate
clouds and anvil shapes
of matter, mother and weather.


Appeared originally in Poetry Northwest.