Saying Goodbye

On Sunday my parents drive me out to the country
for the peace and quiet. But my father brings
a radio for the football results.
The announcer's tinny voice barks out the score
while my mother's chatter rises and falls like a wave.

‘You’re much better off over there,’
she says, just to have something to say.
‘There’s no opportunity for the young people in Ireland.’
It seems my letters from Vermont worked.
I knew they were the perfect snow-job.

Still, thinking of my life that moves without them,
I am stricken by distances and silence.
We are each in our separateness connected.
I wear his eyes, her mouth, the family nose.
But I'm strangely grown up and out of reach.

On Monday they take me back to the airport.
‘I'm a foolish old woman,’ my mother weeps
as my father shepherds her safely away.
She's been pushing me away with her tongue
all week and now I can do nothing to save her.

I walk down the ramp, feeling myself
growing smaller with each descending footstep,
then turn to call back to them over the whining engines.
Her head is bent, his arm around her shoulders.
All that’s left is to lug my portion of regrets
like an extra suitcase out over the Atlantic.

from Still Listening by Angela Patten