Departure. A poem.

He said he was coming back.
That man of ill repute.
That man of few words.
The strong hero whom she loved.

His large hands lifting her up high beyond the colourfully painted floor,
That she could no longer see.
The spilt oils and upturned turpentine,
Smearing out of the canvas like a snake.

He takes her by the hand, in the other the old tarnished suitcase
Crammed with papers and brushes.
It bangs against his long legs.
She watches the brass corners scrape wood as it is thrown aboard.

The sun is warm on the smooth white steps
When she counts the bounces of her shiny red ball,
Cascading down towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Crisp and blue, twinkling white, making her squint.

Goodbye, he said, taking the rope like the reins of a tremendous plumed horse.
Ploughing out into the foamy mane of the ocean’s breath.
Then the blue sail was finally gone, dipped over the line.
Salt of from sea and tears were wet on her cheeks.

He said he was coming back, her mother softly said each day,
As the sunset over the line that split the water and light.
That strong big man who liked to move paint around
And lift his daughter into the sky.

She sat alone and watched the gulls wheel and rise,
The sounds of the ocean were faint and distant.
No words came across the sparkling ocean.
The silence clogging her ears with thick abandonment.

Her small hands clasped the broad brush he had left behind.
Clods of paint stuck in bristles constricting her heart
As she searched for a speck amongst the silver water sunset.
He said he was coming back she whispered as days turned and dropped like autumn leaves.

He said he was coming back she mumbled as her mother’s hair faded white.
The light in her eyes slowly setting below the line.
The years tumbled by in a cavalcade of efforts at happiness and life.
The daughter’s life filling with people and things and time and words.

She turned to her island from which she had always looked out.
Backing away on her own wooden horse
With rope reins and a sail,
Surging towards the line between water and sky.

Holding a suitcase and a paintbrush,
“I am coming back” she repeated for her heart to hear.
Her own saviour, her own hero.
She looked ahead.