I am homesick for many things. As a wandering vagrant with no stable purpose in life (i.e. a recent college graduate), this cannot be avoided. I am homesick for the 64 acres of fallow fields where I grew up, for the childhood bedroom that no longer exists, for my parents’ new house and its kitchen pantry, for college and the feelings of stress and purpose and friendship, for America, for the body of another person, for all the places I have lived. This poem began as a sort of farewell to Paris, a city which I find myself constantly having to leave, but really, it is for the innumerable places I have let go.

Of course, as is to be expected, another poet has already written a better version of this poem, the version that I wish I had written. Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” is a flawless villanelle, a poem that always makes me wish I could write formal poetry without it sounding forced. If only the art of poetry were as easily mastered as the art of losing…


The day you leave,
you retreat to the heart
to whisper farewells
and promises to write.

The final night,
the lights were warmer
than you will ever remember,
while in this winter,
you are away and colder
than all the city streets put together,
your heart beating
to the rhythm of some old home.

Feel the tingling in your hands
and in your heels to walk and work
in gardens of your own planting,
whose roots you’ve known,
seeded and grown to blooming
in the summer of your long living on the land,
the dirt on your hands the same as the day
you arrived and stayed awhile
and fell in love
with this lasting thing.

All the windows have been boarded up;
dust on the shelves, cobwebs in the corner,
the impression of your head on the pillow, still.

You do not know when you will be back again,
but you imagine that all the flower boxes
are desolate without you.


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