'As You Left Home One Winter's Night' by Anne Kellas | States of Poetry Tasmania - Series Two

It’s dawn but it’s dark.
Winter. Your Winterreise
begins. But you don’t want to wake.

I tried to wake you but you wouldn’t, then you would.
If I knew then what I know now.
But there was the ticket, the passport.

Your father’s ready, names and numbers, labels on the luggage.
The car is idling outside.
It’s dawn but dark.

It’s winter here but summer where you’re going.
I’ve bought you coats and bags and clothes and phones
and all the usual clutter’s jammed and folded.

You turn back to sleep. No no, wake up I urge you
and you do.
Reluctantly you dress, foot-heavy. Swallow today’s pills.

What if I never see you again.
The thought occurs, but does not stay.
What if I were travelling too. I could but I don’t.

I’m your taxi. Fate’s unwitting Charon
your ferry
cross the Derwent
to deeper waters than you’ve ever known.

And then you’re gone. Your plane’s
a red dot slowly blinking in the sky.
Your brother and I drive home as blank as owls.

Your silence is everywhere around us.
Nothing’s left behind, except a woollen jumper.
I’ll post it to you. For Switzerland.

And so I buy a card – LIFE! is all it says.
But I lose it with my wallet.
When they’re found, I wrap LIFE! in the jumper.

LIFE! could reach you in a week,
before you get to Europe. But it will be summer there.
And still I do not post it.

At a point of no return
small as an exclamation mark’s full stop
in Zurich’s Platzspitz Park

– cleaned up, almost, but not quite –
you punctuate your life.
And you don’t want to wake.

Anne Kellas

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