Instructions on How to Leave Me, by Rhett Iseman Trull

from The Real Warnings (Anhinga, 2009), Winner 2010 Oscar Arnold Young Award for Outstanding Poetry Book


Instructions on How to Leave Me

by Rhett Iseman Trull


Tell me again about that dream where,

in my lace skirt, I’m stealing your blueberries

faster than you pick them. Tell me how that day


for decades has spread its sweet dark stain

inside you. Remind me of our feet swinging

from the church pew, good shoes knocking together.


Any old memory will do: my Indian-head nickel

flattened on the train tracks, the bad

haircut I got to match yours, you winning me


the onionskin marble from Rush the Crusher.

Or our panic every time we couldn’t find

Bob, your dad’s retired firedog


that Crazy Miss Robins used to take into town

without asking, letting him ride shotgun,

buying him cheeseburgers at the drive-thru.


Tell me the stories the grown-ups told on porches

as they shelled peas and we organized

our army men, adding up our casualties


in little piles of pewter soldiers. Kiss me

the way you did that first time

in Dr. Harper’s office after hours as we waited


for your mother to come out crying with the news,

so sure we were the snake was poisonous

and you were going to die. Kiss me like that,


as if to say you’re sorry you’re about to leave, sorry

for the unpartnered square dances, ungiven presents

of kittens and decoder rings, undedicated


late-night radio songs. No. Don’t

say anything. Just look at me the way you did

that first time you thought you had to go. And go.


(First published in The Greensboro Review)


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