On Lasts and Leaving

As a senior, this has been a year of lasts. Of leaving. Of using my last school supplies, running out of paper, and not finding a reason to buy a new ream. This has been a year of cardboard boxes. Wrapping college in tissue and duct taping the ends. Of new addresses. New homes.

Throughout the last couple years at Douglas Anderson, poetry has become my way of breathing. I write what I don’t understand, what I want to know, what I want to forget, apologies. I write about mountains and rivers and trees and seasons. I write poems about leaving.

Sometimes, I’ve found, that writing what is real is the most difficult to do. It’s been hard for me to accept the fact that I won’t be able to call my friends next year, tell them I am outside their homes and want to get burritos. It’s been hard for me to accept the fact that I won’t park next to their cars every day, walk to classes in the morning, steal their lunches. I’ve begun putting these feelings into poems—suffocating my fear in similes, worries weighing heavy on the words.

Although I often feel lost in all of these lasts, I know that I have to appreciate them for what they are. I have to remember the last looks. The last bits of laughter. I have to remember it all and turn them into words. Into poems.

If you’re feeling stuck and need some inspiration, here are my favorite poems about leaving, and remembering:

  • Fifth Grade Autobiography by Rita Dove

(http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182222)

  • Heavy Summer Rain by Jane Kenyon

(http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/238652)

  • You Can Have It by Philip Levine

(http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179090)

— Raegan Carpenter, Poetry Editor