Notes on Leaving

Notes on Leaving

by Laisha Rosnau


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780889712003
Publisher: Nightwood Editions
Publication date: 03/23/2004
Pages: 85
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Laisha Rosnau is the author of The Sudden Weight of Snow (McClelland and Stewart, 2002), which was an honourable mention for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Rosnau’s first collection of poetry, Notes on Leaving (Nightwood, 2004), won the 2005 Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award. Her second, Lousy Explorers (Nightwood, 2009), was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman. Her most recent book of poetry, Pluck (Nightwood, 2014), was nominated for the national Raymond Souster Award. Rosnau teaches fiction and poetry at UBC, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Film School and Okanagan College. She and her family are the resident caretakers of Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary in Coldstream, BC.

Read an Excerpt


She pretends to read in the back of the car,
Disney books, thin and coded with colour -
the white of milk-sweet girls, true love in a bead of crimson blood. She stares down pictures until they blur: fairies become smudged bugs on the windshield, a prince morphs into a twisted plastic bag, tumbles along the side of the highway. She listens to taped voices, turns pages when she hears the sound of a tinkling waterfall (hand clamped between her legs when she has to pee.)

These books are not full of the words she finally learns to read. Instead,
somewhere on the prairies, she looks out the window and understands the sign.
Understands that the backwards 3 is an E,
that, with the curl of two snakes and a circle moon, this spells ESSO.
She holds the knowledge in her mouth,
releases the shapes of words to the reflection of her lips in the car window.

She will tell you this story later,
the back seat thick with baggage, the dog stinking in the heat. She will tell you one too many times as your road trips blur together,
the lights on the signs in each new small town no longer winking like bright promises.
When you pull over at gas station restrooms,
you will light a cigarette while she goes, spell her name on air with the cherry, stamp it under foot when she gets back into the car.


what is lost? How much am I responsible for giving away? Yes, I followed him down trails, beside rivers, up slopes,
strained each muscle that moved me. I followed, feet pounding a rhythm with his, a series of spent breaths that would eventually lead us back to the place where we had started.

I know what I wanted. Air thrust in and out of lungs like blows, that pure physicality,
shortness of breath, chests rising, pupils engorged to take in the peaks around us. Fine lick of sweat,
taste of salt on mouths, we would always lead ourselves back to where we started.

To where he would leave one morning in a sports car that denied his life story with its two seats, not able to carry the plot of his wife, their children, mortgage, employment so secure it had taken years.
My station wagon lied too,
hoodwinked at things that weren't there.

I gear down to slow my departure from this place. When I think
I have found the base of these mountains, I'll stop and weep,
smarting with my own drama.
What is taken then, what is given away, how much am I responsible for losing when I knew

every run through the woods would bring us back. In my mind, he is perpetually returning - an open door, a wife balancing children on hip, in hand.
In my mind, I am always looking for places where I can sleep in the back of the car alone, doors locked so I will be safe.

What People are Saying About This

Jay Ruzesky

The poems in Notes on Leaving are as intimate and surprising as the delicacy of rolling moon 'from tongue to tongue.' Laisha Rosnau delivers her phrases with abandon and aims them where they count.
-Jay Ruzesky

David O'Meara

Like her image of house-slips snagged on rough wrought-iron, Laisha Rosnau's debut book of poems speaks of a world both knowing and delicate, in a voice that is brash, heart-felt, human . . .
-David O'Meara

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