Instructions on How to Leave Me

Rhett Iseman

Tell me again about that dream where,
In my lace skirt, I’m stealing your blueberries
Faster than you pick them. Tell me how that day

For decades has spread its sweet dark stain
Inside you. Remind me of our feet swinging
From the church pew, good shoes knocking together.

Any old memory will do: my Indian-head nickel
Flattened on the train tracks, the bad haircut I got
To match yours, you winning me

The onionskin marble from Rush the Crusher.
Or our panic every time we couldn’t find
Bob, your dad’s retired firedog

That Crazy Miss Robins used to take into town
Without asking, letting him ride shotgun,
Buying him cheeseburgers at the drive-thru.

Tell me the stories the grown-ups told on porches
As they shelled peas and we organized
Our army men, adding up our casualties

In little piles of pewter soldiers. Kiss me
The way you did that first time
In Dr. Harper’s office after hours as we waited

For your mother to come out crying with the news,
So sure we were the snake was poisonous
And you were going to die. Kiss me like that,
As if to say you’re sorry you’re about to leave,
Sorry for the unpartnered square dances, ungiven
Presents of kittens and decoder rings,

Undedicated late-night radio songs. No.
Don’t say anything. Just look at me the way you did
That first time you thought you had to go. And go.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro


RHETT ISEMAN was raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She recently completed her MFA at UNC Greensboro.