The Forced Departure

By Eileen R. Tabios b. 1960
I consider the woman’s choice in liberating a red dress with pale-green sandals.
My penury depresses me into a staring contest with a melting ice cube.
A friend excited my husband with an invitation to pilot a boat with powerful thrusters.
My gift of chocolate in pink cellophane failed to make the blonde smile.
Consequently, I remind the party-goers that Trans World Airlines painted a new night with nebulae.

I could be happy in Alphabet City, buildings crumbling around my notepad.
I could be happy sipping iced tea while admiring the seamless face of a pool.
I could be happy gurgling back at an infant dribbling green saliva down his chin.
I could be happy downing Absolut gimlets (ice-cold, no ice) in a neighborhood bar with pool players providing the music, or a hotel whose walls are laminated with mahogany and where tuxedos prevail.
I could be happy with your hand on my waist as you try to identify the scent hollowing my throat.

An entire landscape in Antarctica disappears, evaporates until salt becomes the only debris.
There are keys to everything, even handcuffs.
You could have been happy, too.

Eileen Tabios, “The Forced Departure” from The Thorn Rosary. Copyright © 2010 by Eileen Tabios. Reprinted by permission of Marsh Hawk Press.

Source: The Thorn Rosary (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Eileen R. Tabios b. 1960


Subjects Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet and writer Eileen Tabios was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when she was 10. She earned a BA in political science from Barnard College and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Founder and editor of the online poetry review journal GALATEA RESURRECTS (A POETRY ENGAGEMENT), Tabios has authored essays, fiction, and collections of mixed-genre writing. Her collections of poetry . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Cities & Urban Life


Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.