“Leaving the Island” by Linda Pastan
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
Leaving the Island
We roll up the rugs and strip the beds by rote, Summer expires as it has done before. The ferry is no simple pleasure boat Nor are we simply cargo, though we’ll float Alongside heavy trucks — their stink and roar. We roll up rugs and strip the beds by rote. This bit of land whose lines the glaciers wrote Becomes the muse of memory once more; The ferry is no simple pleasure boat. I’ll trade my swimsuit for a woolen coat; The torch of autumn has but small allure. We roll up rugs and strip the beds by rote. The absences these empty shells denote Suggest the losses winter has in store. The ferry is no simple pleasure boat. The songs of summer dwindle to one note; The fog horn’s blast (which drowns this closing door.) We rolled up rugs and stripped the beds by rote. The ferry is no simple pleasure boat.
Copyright Linda Pastan.
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About the Poet
Poet Linda Pastan (1932- ) was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. Linda Pastan is the author of over a dozen poetry collections, including Insomnia: Poems (W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).
Learn more about Linda Pastan at The Poetry Foundation.