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Friday, March 19, 2021


by Barbara Simmons


We do it without thinking, sighting those red block letters, 
reassuring our leaving places we have found ourselves,
or, more precisely, where we’ve found ourselves lost, 
in theaters, malls, relationships, 
those gathering spaces where, 
not sure sometimes why we're there, 
we fold away small notes to self, including routes by which we’ll leave.  
It's been a year since we took leave
from what? Routines, connections, worn out paths of
customary comings, anticipated goings,
a year of changing patterns, forswearing the habitual,
creating novel ways to meet, to share, to love, to spend
time trying not to think where we should have been, 
envisioning new plans to leave the here and now
without abandoning ourselves. What's left
when signs are not available? The word itself lies next to
others in the dictionary, including existential, 
become new guides for taking leave, and flight, and hold
of who we are
as we discover what
it is to paint our own way out of boxes, out of corners,
over all walls that restrict our freedoms
finding what we've missed seeing, how we've missed living.
Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston, now resides in California—the coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins. Retired educator, she savors smaller parts of life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and try to understand more. Publications have included Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent,  The New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories, and Journal of Expressive Writing.