Leaving Atlantis is a suite of poems that explores the unstable territory between public and private. They are addressed to the great Barbadian novelist and thinker, George Lamming, the silent but speaking partner in a relationship of love that comes between two writers when “your flag is flying at half-mast”. The suite works at multiple levels, as a record of the negotiation of feelings, permissions, exclusions and treaties between two persons who have to confront the reality of long lives that have accumulated “memories I cannot share”, and not least that the poet is a woman of deep religious faith, and the man a lifelong Marxist and non-believer.
What the poems also deal with in a moving but resolutely unsentimental way is the fact that the age of one of the partners makes the temporal finiteness of the relationship a matter of acute awareness. What is the poet to think when she sees the man throwing out and putting his papers in order? “Clearing out?”