Collect the pennies
from between couch cushions,
the bobby pins littered behind the vanity,
the forgotten magnets
that have slid underneath the fridge.
Place them in a jar labelled “home”
and fill in the rest with paper stars
made from college letters and for-sale flyers.
Keep a little room at the top in case
you come across anything along the way
that you might want to remember, too.
On the last night,
drink all the wine in your house.
Memorize every little thing –
every nook, every water stain,
every patched hole –
makes the memories blurry before
you can even begin to forget.
Create a funerary boat
out of coffee stirrers. Dig your
baby book out
from your mother’s dresser
and remove the lock of hair from inside.
Carry the boat to the pond
and light the match,
the flames dancing across stagnant water.
Say goodbye to the sidewalk
cracks and broken curbs.
Etch their scars into the memory
of skinned knees and scraped elbows,
the maps of your childhood marked
with gravel dust and peeling skin.
Go into the city at night
and breathe in the bay air.
Feel the salt lick your teeth
as you spend one last night
picking your way over the mortar
stripes and cobblestones,
finding your way back to the water.
Wrap the shadows from the streetlights
around your shoulders
to protect you from the chill
of the night.
When you pull out of the driveway
for the last time,
peel away the fabric
of the car seats,
dismantle the metal
and build it back into a lifeboat
beating against the current
of the highway. Plug the holes
and continue searching, dreaming,
for a lighthouse.
When you hit land, when you settle down
into a patch of dirt
that neither startles nor welcomes you,
stay awhile, but do not linger.
Point your feet in a direction.
Roads are roads always,
the same stretched before you
as ribboning behind you.
WHEN YOU LEAVE BY QUINN BAUMEISTER