Thursday, December 24, 2009

Leaving

Someone important stood on a stage at a writers' conference and said people become writers in order to leave something behind. There was a time I believed that. Now I'm more of the mind that people become writers to have somewhere to go.


You leave a word on a page. You leave an impression. You take your leave. But where do you take it?


There are always more reasons for leaving then staying. I’m about to leave a job I’ve had for thirteen years. No, this isn’t a journal entry. This isn’t important enough for that, at least not yet. Everyone eventually leaves. I want to say it’s easy. It’s not. It’s almost winter. I drove home in a U-Haul van with eleven boxes in the back. I left my office empty. I left my parking spot empty. When I stepped out of the elevator that, too, was empty.


The history of leaving is synonymous with the history of premonition. It basically works like this, you believe something is going to happen and it makes you want to stay, or it makes you want to leave. Somewhere in the bible doesn’t it say gather your past and go forth? It should. We spend more time thinking of the past than the future. Most poems are written in the past tense.


You leave evidence. You leave well enough alone. You leave a trail. But where did you go?


I attempted to find evidence proving that travel was invented to accommodate leaving more than going. I found arguments for both points of view. That does little for my thesis. But leaving requires honesty. Going, on the other hand, requires hope.


When smoke leaves fire, which one is more sad, the smoke or the fire? The same question applies to a poem and a poet. Leaving can turn any day into a grave. Everything I learned about leaving I learned from women. One woman told me it take courage to leave. Another said it takes courage to stay.


This is how you write a poem, by leaving things behind. A novel is different. You write that by putting things together. You can’t leave your memories, probably why poetry is more about leaving. The poetic act of creation is an attempt to undo something. When that’s not possible, we leave.

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