When He Left

by | Feb 4, 2023

When he left

It was summer. It was soft exhale of sky and cloudfloat. It was a lemonade glass you rolled on your throat and humid drops of where did he go? Where did he go? It was you should have not stayed in the sun so long, you know how easy you burn. It was a walk on the beach, the sudden screech of gulls like thoughts hanging in the air. It was when he told you he wasn’t sure and you told him, it’s okay, I’ll give you time, but time isn’t yours to give. It was perfume scent and no way not to smell it. It was telling yourself he fell in a patch of wildflowers. Meanwhile your hair was feathered, you skin drying down to wilt. You the part of the peach leftover after the succulent flesh is bitten and stripped. The sky a collection of hearts and orange and spill of leftover love.

When he left

It was autumn. It was crunch and pumpkin and all the tricks your heart always makes. Eyescoop and goo and that’s what makes a face. And you know it’s only pumpkins that work that way because there were no smiles on his face anymore. He wasn’t lit from within anymore and you could feel the breeze each time he walked in the room. You tried to remind him of applepicking and cinnamon and the sweet stickiness of toffee. You were trying to think of what could hold him, what could keep him and you knew there was nothing but winter coming up soon.

When he left

It was winter. It was raw claw or icy branch where even the sun didn’t look anymore. It was oh you should have worn a hat which was another way to say you shouldn’t have introduced to your sisterbestfriendcoworker. You know how that is just another hole in the ice, another slip and skid and there you are, your car spinning like the hands of time which don’t stop, don’t stop and you were cleaning the snow slop off the hallway floor, the wood all buckled and warped and rather than go after him one more goddamn time, you get on your knees which are buckled now and warped themselves, what with time taking all it can, stuffing it in a sack and there you are rubbing circles on the floor that will never feel his footsteps again, your back will never feel his strum.

When he left

There was no spring.


  1. Karen Keefe

    Very well done. The repetition of phrases and tones, all the painful details of loss, the inescapable imprints. All the things attempted to bring him back, remind him, bind him and the failure across time. Thank you

  2. Dominique Christina

    Your language is so vibrant. There’s a rhythm and cadence that I really love. It’s almost musical. Even as you lay out the hard stuff, the language is giving me a way to manage whatever is coming. Thank you for this.

  3. Meg Tuite

    Absolutely gorgeous descriptions and the repetition of ‘When he left’ and the seasons moving on, but never another spring! Exquisite and heartbreaking! LOVE LOVE THIS!

  4. Sheree Shatsky

    “It was a lemonade glass you rolled on your throat and humid drops …” Likely the most delicious description of summer I’ve read. As stated by others, the images are luscious- such stark contrast as we float through before the same glass frosts over. Loved it, every word.

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Francine, love the musicality and poetic prose, the repetition of ‘when he left’ and the seasons as the cauldron that holds this all together. And that ending is so perfectly rendered. Send it out!

  6. Len Kuntz


    I always love the way you subvert language and words so cleverly and artfully, and you do so a number of times in this latest fantastic piece. I was right there with the narrator, her love of nature and horrible heartache.

  7. jennifer vanderheyden

    This is so beautifully written, and so very poignant. I love the symmetry, the repetition and progression of the seasons…a piece of art.

Submit a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest