What Leaving Brings


In the timelessness that is empathy,
he watched them all go.
He watched them go amidst indigo:
the dark hues of pre-morning,
the smear of clouds not yet shaped;
the promise of radiance not yet come;
before the world was made
and life began its throb and hum.

The sun warmed them soon enough
or maybe; it did not
for its Mobius cycle was indifferent
to how and why and when
men and women leave.

Mood clouded sight, heightened perception
The dance of blue demons
worried their spirits,
So much so, that the only reprieve
was to chase them off
with dreams, flung far across and away
To new beginnings
and the shivering fright,
that leaving brings.

Still they taunted.
Blue demons infested women’s minds
with start, startle and recognition
of things not packed.
Yea, only essentials make the life,
and fill its treasury
with no luxury.

The women stood in clusters of two’s and three’s.
Their black, moist eyes
saw vistas only women see:
of their men and their moods;
of who is friend and who is foe
With judgment swift, practical, righteous
They knew exactly where their children were.

The greens came then
and the cold blues of the sea.
The squawk and squabble
of grey-white dockside birds,
the aromas of vastness,
a billow-y stink of diesel.

They felt the ship’s honk in their bellies.
It travelled up their spine into neck,
shivered by vertigo leavings
of land from sea.
Slightly out of view,
the demons joined them.
They soared and fluttered,
screamed and frightened:
Raced out to the horizon, picked at dreams
and returned smelling of vomit.

In a gumbo of worry and hope,
they were fed.
Children poked strange manna;
picked at it
and became children again.
In the fullness of toil and spin,
heart’s warmed:
The softness of mothers returned
while absent fathers left anger, topside.
Together, they emerged.

Blue was everywhere.
The flat dominant blue of the sky
flattered the still sea,
gave it a dimensional effect,
so that the two merged into one.
And it was all sea
and the sun was broadened
so that it was all sun,
received on skin and upon spirit:
By mid-week, the innocence of children
returned like breathing.

The squawk and screech of seagulls
rose in crescendo,
before the eternal bellow announced land.
They disembarked.
The convergence began:
Linear, tedious, right angled shuffle:
Quivering line upon line, waiting-to-wait,
jig forward and stop.

Children broke ranks
to chase and bully shore birds
in the new world:
Prophetically yanked back
to a geometry of sharp angles
that would be expected of them for years.
Finally, the fission:
A big-Bang of it,
rippled out magnificently,
across the heavens.

They scattered everywhere
Spirit and demon alike, burst forth
like seed among thistle,
in the providence of harvest waiting.
North and south they floated,
to the east and to the west
and their parables unfolded the way they must:
Each one to his own ground,
Each one to his own germination,
Her own grip and tendril,
While cloying memories of diesel
remind nostrils,
that fresh air is always
at the front of the ship.


Death came in due course.
A blackness dappled by electric flicker
gently left a silhouette upon his loneliness.
In the fullness of life
he watched them all gather:
and they gathered into a ministry of presence
that made the black all black:
Weeping left a mist,
that watered their expanse.

He looked up
to see an elegant woman.
Her man preened,
his own image and likeness by her side.
She glanced back
with avian inspection, tried to place him.
Her Dark Wells gleamed when she saw
he was the Contadini’s.

There was an expensive smell to her.
When she stepped back, she released him
into the scent of her affection.
Etched faces stared, stern and stone-y
until the ridges of all eyes melted:
Like waves, men and women
gave in again,
to their weeping.

He was in spirit form
and he wished to comfort them.
Amidst urns of cold-blooded gladiola;
and lipstick smears of carnation
He watched from afar
and by way of his tears:
he returned each Soul in the room
to their gatherings;
to their cantos;
to their feasts.
He made them eat.

Only then:
He saw how ancients’ love.
How they hold hands.
How men’s familiar touch
guide the backs of women
and how the women let them.
Suddenly!  They became playful,
silly, like boys chasing girls,
until they parted beneath the sun, went to tables
to play cards and compete.
The women really let go then!
Hitched up their skirts
to dance-the-dance of freedom,
when women cackle together
and know.


In the timelessness that is empathy
He saw their predisposition to urban life:
How they made concrete fertile:
How they cleared and tilled,
sewed and reaped
the fructifications of harvest:
Pressed wine.

Saved and made do,
suffered small rooms
Somehow made love,
found time to eat together:
stowed away life,
packed it tight for their future.
They were all a dime-a-dozen then.
Indentured, until the toe-hold.
Bullied like shore birds, made to fly off:
The first piece of land, the first house
and the money grew.
When the mortgage was paid?
It was like a first feast upon the sea.

In the streets of hard joy,
He saw them all leave in haste,
to a greater dream on a greater horizon
and on their seventh day?
He watched them rest
to let their children grow.


A forest of ancient men and women in song.
Their impressionism in afternoon light:
caught the glint of cooler and chair,
picnic table and bakery-bag.
Dappled moisture lifted light in prisms,
shimmered along tree bough
while red and white linens
created picnics between trunks.

A glisten on slippery needles
formed tiny stages, perfectly bunched.
So ripe with imaginings,
Each family vine:
leaf and fruit all at once,
A growth in precise moments of being
that quiver with life.

They entered the love-mural, fully:
held hands with carefree lightness
while a breeze slipped over their skin,
drew them deeper into the woods
amidst this opera of the living.

Women chatted easily
in clusters of two and three,
with judgement swift, practical and righteous,
They knew exactly
where everything was.
Men looked preoccupied,
as if to see only their own point of view.
Children, all copy-cat, chased seagulls,
with red-lipped watermelon grins.
Fat-scented breath of barbecue
defined air, gave it shape
Like a gossamer carnival tent;
Gathered together,
under canopies of celebration.

The tree’s shade released them then:
Gave them back to the road
and the road drew them over like gravity
to a smooth cement dance floor.
Ancients beheld their return:
Women nodded with approval
remembered, the smile of Venus
upon the aimless stroll of young hearts.

Tupperware was packed; coolers gathered,
Kisses gave way to goodbyes;
A last addictive snatch of almond.
They all drove away then,
dappled, down the road
past the stages in trees,
made content by the theatre
of completeness in a day.

And they dispersed to the south and to the east,
to the west and to the north.
Back to the focal moments of their lives:
To strum the songs of love,
in the sweet hesitation
that leaving brings.


In the timelessness that is empathy,
in the honey-gold pastures of rest,
He saw only the sun:
It arrived.  It stayed.  It breathed.  It left.
Laid to rest in rich folds of indigo.
As one eternal moment,
twists dreamily in its spiral;
awaiting only,
our call to ascension.

They knew it like breathing
and He knew it like breathing.
They watched their generations
leave two by two at necessary intervals:
Some from the cancer,
Some from the old age,
Some from the drink
at the toast of blue demons.

Moods clouded sight, heightened perception
To gather again and again,
the mausoleum bound:
A black shuffle of line to stand expectant:
The women by their men,
the men by their women:
The children lost again, in a sea of legs;
filling in all our holes.

He touched the shiny marble
with his forehead,
Traced its’ cool grain
with his fingertips,
As if to foretell the future.
He beheld oval photographs
of innocent couples,
Saw the innocent vigil
of children and infants stolen.

In the timelessness that is empathy,
he watched them all go.
He watched them go amidst indigo:
the dark hues of pre-morning,
the smear of clouds not yet shaped;
the promise of radiance not yet come;
Before the world was made
and life began its throb and hum?

He was given to see,
there was only one goodbye.
Such hard elegance in-between
and hidden in plain sight:
So slightly out of view
Through stark comings and goings,
Sweet gyres of love,
and demons exist,
In the making
of a life.

Glenn Carley is the author of the urban opera, Polenta at Midnight: Tales of Gusto and Enchantment in North York (Vehicule Press, 2007), and a regular contributor to Accenti. His creative non-fiction, Good Enough From Here, was published by Rock’s Mills Press (March 2020). He resides in Bolton, Ontario, with his family (Gcarley@rogers.com).

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