“I Am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

Linda Pastan, “I Am Learning to Abandon the World” from PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Linda Pastan.

6 thoughts on ““I Am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan

    1. I had the feeling this was a break-up poem (though not literally)…she’s breaking it off with the world because she sees how it all inevitably ends. It’s been cruel and has taken so much from her, so she’s going to leave it before it can leave her… Detaching from its beauty…
      But each morning, the rich coffee…the bird songs…the new leaves…the sweet atonement of warm sunshine in her lap. Like the world wants to make up with her, like it’s sorry. Pulling her back in. How can she *not* love it?

      Sweet and loving happy ending or a cyclic abusive relationship though? Hmm. Maybe it can be both?…What was that poem, “I am learning to love the world again?” Bass, I think? I’ll find it and post link.

      Pastan … Ooph. She’s absolutely incredible.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yep, Bass. And it was for you. 😉

      The Thing Is

      to love life, to love it even
      when you have no stomach for it
      and everything you’ve held dear
      crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
      your throat filled with the silt of it.
      When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
      thickening the air, heavy as water
      more fit for gills than lungs;
      when grief weights you like your own flesh
      only more of it, an obesity of grief,
      you think, How can a body withstand this?
      Then you hold life like a face
      between your palms, a plain face,
      no charming smile, no violet eyes,
      and you say, yes, I will take you
      I will love you, again.

      “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass, Mules of Love.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.