Sarah Garrigan

January 31, 2009

The Melancholy of Departure

He said, maps leave.

In the Tate that day, I felt them expand

with latitude lines that did not connect,

more fragile than the lattice of a leaf.

It was all about perspective.

On a postcard sent back several thousand miles,

I wrote, “This is just a more pretentious form of missing.”

Inside the Iceberg

In the sun, it seemed impenetrable.

Glassy white, faintly marbled with jade,

hints of cobalt blue beneath.

You had come to see the departure.

Beneath the ice caves, a pure form.

Liquid quicksilvered down the sloping mass,

smoothing its contours as twilight softens buildings.

All that was angular effaced into blurry focus.

When the glacier top sheared off

it was hiding greenery inside.

Dark, cold pools had turned vivid aquamarine,

hard walls verdant with growing things.

From the opposite bank

you swore you could see iridescent dragonflies

winging through the green, escaping into the

pearly grey clouds above the iceberg.


It is easier to begin without beginning.

We were less obvious that way;

“Hello” too ritualistic, a cliché.

These misspoken words gravitate towards

our hour-long silences,

and this thin thread,

waving gently with each nautical mile,

was never overstrained; I was careful.

It was almost easier then,

when the ending was evident

in every quiet phone call,

but never realized.

This tenuous proximity

begot new lived realities.

I took fragility back with me; unintentional.


She has never seen swamp grass

or moss that grows in enclosing layers,

but she can imagine the cool,

shut-off quality

inside the green.

The light would be different there,

softer, filtered through lacy chlorophyll sheets.

And she would not feel trapped:

she has determined

to cultivate isolation.

Her need for solitude seemed

enormous after too many days upended by noise,

silencing the arguments

inside her head as if

they did not exist.

But she finds herself waiting

for a voice to shatter the quiet contemplation,

turning her celadon haven into

another daydream

she cannot sustain.


The swirls were everywhere, caressing,

but I’ll take eggs to her scales until she can decide

who it is she wants. I thought they were a one of

opposite patterns, not standardizing for the Victorians,

and her modest train blending in: there is no making waves.

Presented openly in framed subjugation; none would dare

criticize the lady of the house (just hook her in along the background).

Still, they let their dizzy fear run over the walls

until it became a passion-point and all they could see was

red spirals circumnavigating the parlour.

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