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"Lisa Leaving" by Karen Whitmore

Lisa Leaving

Another leaving

so many goodbyes,

waving she vanishes

down a jetway, down a driveway,

on foot, in a car, going away

we part reluctantly, long hugs, a look back

having already planned another meeting

my direction or hers

we seemed to have reversed places

she the mother, I the dependent

are you sure you don’t need a cane

as I walk with her

not minding her arm for support

her first leaving

thousands of miles, twelve months away

young and overburdened

suitcase too large, backpack overstuffed

and violin

no contact permitted

we ate her letters trying to feel her insides

she wrote about riding her bike

radioactive rain from exploding Chernobyl

we hid our concerns

returns cluttered with relief and emotion

less acute than leavings

last time she left in hours of predawn

belongings already stowed

bed stripped and lunch packed for the road

before I awoke

a long hug, my small child for a moment

a wave of hand through the open window, a kiss blown

I track her in my thoughts the stop lights along Fremont

a turn onto the 210

and gone

passing Six Flags

as far as I remember

another hour Bakersfield

I’ve lost her by now

I pick up, put away

inhaling my solitary space

the process always two directional

anticipating arrival and sharing time

then letting go

echoes of leaving reverberate

washing machine complaining about bedding

coffee pot hissing empty

traffic picking up as dawn lightens the sky

just an ordinary day beginning


Karen Whitmore is a fairly recent transplant to South Pasadena from Washington State, where she grew up beneath the shadow of Mt Rainier. She has been writing poetry since childhood, reading and learning from her favorite poets. She studied with Lawson Inada, a past poet laureate of Oregon, and accompanied some of her work with voice or instrument. Most recently, she has been involved in the Pasadena Senior Center Writing Club facilitated by Esther Gillies. She was published previously in Spectrum and the Pasadena Star-News.

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