Departure from Saline River

Departure from Saline River | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Courtesy of Jens Schott Knudsen/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

‘I’m sorry. I haven’t done this before
and I’m quite nervous,’ he said,
folding himself into the suitcase.

‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘Take your time.
The whole town’s come to see you off.’

Once his legs had been broken
and tucked beneath him
they would begin their anthem.

He remembered how it sounded that first day.
Like all the drowning lungs of the sea.

A heron in a standoff with the river.
The questioning necks of three – no, four – flamingos.
All of it. He could taste it already,

the ink of their feedback.
He imagined the view from the office

obscured by a bare swinging bulb.
She came forward again and kissed him,
placed in his hand a photograph

of their wedding day. He’d remember this
for the file, for the worn-leather give of the chair.
From the suitcase he had a great idea.

It would have to wait. He wouldn’t turn back.
Not now. Not for anything.

Dane Holt is poetry editor of the Tangerine, a Belfast magazine of new writing. His poems have been published in Poetry Ireland Review, the Trumpet, the White Review, Stand, bath magg, One Hand Clapping, Anthropocene, and elsewhere.
Explore Related Content
, , ,