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Leaving the Island

We roll up the rugs and strip the beds by rote,
Summer expires as it has done before.
The ferry is no simple pleasure boat

Nor are we simply cargo, though we’ll float
Alongside heavy trucks — their stink and roar.
We roll up rugs and strip the beds by rote.

This bit of land whose lines the glaciers wrote
Becomes the muse of memory once more;
The ferry is no simple pleasure boat.

I’ll trade my swimsuit for a woolen coat;
The torch of autumn has but small allure.
We roll up rugs and strip the beds by rote.

The absences these empty shells denote
Suggest the losses winter has in store.
The ferry is no simple pleasure boat.

The songs of summer dwindle to one note;
The fog horn’s blast (which drowns this closing door.)
We rolled up rugs and stripped the beds by rote.
The ferry is no simple pleasure boat.

—Linda Pastan

from Poetry

Copyright Linda Pastan.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Linda Pastan. Copyright by Linda Pastan. For further permissions information, contact Linda Pastan, 11710 Beall Mt. Road, Potomac, MD 20854, lpastan@att.net.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Poet Linda Pastan (1932- ) was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. Linda Pastan is the author of over a dozen poetry collections, including Insomnia: Poems (W. W. Norton and Company, 2015).

Learn more about Linda Pastan at The Poetry Foundation.