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Spring 2016

The One Who Left

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The one who left
never left, or leaving,
leaves a painted shadow
that outlasts the real wall:
the one who left
never left.

The one who stayed
never saw, and staying
stays confined in shadow
cast there from behind the wall:
the one who stayed
never stayed.

The one who broke
broke solely, breaking
wholly as she was broken,
the one who spoke
spoke wholly, speaking
solely as he was spoken.

The one who stayed
learned to repay walls
with calls unspoken,
the one who left
and returned found shadows
woken, walls burned,
ashes, and a fall.

—Jim Powell

Jim Powell is the author of two collections of poetry—Substrate and It Was Fever That Made the World—and the translator of The Poetry of Sappho.


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