Leaving is a song of sadness, a keening
in the wetlands like cries of geese and gulls –
but there’s no agony in this word, no skull
in the catacombs white and screaming,
no heart ripped out, no untimely weaning
when daughters are raped, enslaved, no cull
of a woman’s sons. The child’s footfall
washes away. And this is what leaving means.
As it must have meant, in myth or in fact,
to the mothers of Athens whose children
vanished, sacrificed to a monstrous cause,
just because, oh just because of an act
of folly, secret itineraries and hidden
deceits. Pointless, the dying because.
Illustration Georgina Baillie