Healing Poems 400

To Leave

Those rocky outcroppings
on the side of the highway
remind me of the planets
the Little Prince visited,

just big enough
for one person and a desk,
a space for thinking to yourself
out in the middle of space,

I think to myself as I drive past,
picturing that little kid
with the long scarf and yellow hair
standing up there. How did he

get around anyway? They never
explained that in the book. Madame
loved that book and wanted us
to love it, too. But I think we

misunderstood it. Something about
a flower and a sheep. A fox and a hat that
was really a snake with an elephant
inside it. That book was harder

than it looked. Maybe that’s why
I’m still thinking about it now,
looking for an exit ramp, light-years
away from the hillocky sphere where I was a kid

myself once. Madame got sick—
and we had a substitute teacher then
who dropped her r’s, even in French.
Every time she dropped an r we dropped

a book, loudly on the floor. Oh how we
tortured her. She got mad, ordered me to
leave: sortez! Minus the r, it sounded
like sauter: to jump. So I jumped

up and down, up and down. I kept
jumping because she kept on yelling:
sauter! sauter! In the end, Madame
never came back. I think she may have

died. It was ambiguous, the way
they left it at the end of that book—you felt
like crying though it wasn’t clear exactly
what happened. Just that it was sad

but also somehow very
beautiful. Sometimes you don’t
quite know why you feel like crying.
You just do. And it feels good, somehow.

Once upon a time I was laughing
when the next thing I knew
a book shut loudly, then a door
was closing behind me

and I was leaving—
walking down an infinitely tessellating
hallway, crying
with a little jump in my step.

~ Paul Hostovsky

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