Before Leaving
Jay Udall

Before Leaving

He had walked down the leafed tunnel as if
he meant to do something in the minutes
before he would go. He might have carried
a shovel or rake, his hard, splintered skin
curled to smooth handle, but he stopped before
the gate, stood there, seemed to lose himself in
gazing out where a sorrel horse ambled
through light, trees shimmered in wind. He forgot
his purpose, or felt it falter, go out,
stranding him in between, and maybe this
was why he’d come back, without knowing it,
to let himself be filled with what he saw
while he still could. It was all already
leaving, going on without him—

Jay Udall

has recently contributed poetry to Prairie Schooner, Cincinnati Review, Spillway, North American Review, and Bayou. His latest volume, The Welcome Table (University of New Mexico Press), won the 2009 New Mexico Book Award. He teaches at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where he also serves as chief editor of the online journal Gris-Gris.