You will need a hot-air balloon,
a river, a friend, mementos,
a note, your memories, and your pain.
Carrying all of the lighter things
meet your friend at the river with the balloon
when the night has forgotten the previous day.
Shake her hand and say, “I am leaving her.”
You must leave the ground at two a.m.
for this is the time of possibility
and as the new hour begins
so begins your life without her
temporarily in the air
While the balloon rises, look into the river
and consider the flow of time around you
then lift your eyes to the sky,
say her name, and focus on the first star you see.
Your friend waves farewell from the riverbank
until she can no longer see your face.
She may resemble your old love
in appearance or temperament
but she must not be the one
for whom you are leaving her
or the force pulling you back to earth will be too great.
Your friendship will merely be a tether
and who else would watch you take off in a balloon
in the middle of the night, for this?
As you ascend, watch the horizon
or the place in the darkness where it should be.
Contemplate the division between earth and sky.
In your mind, divide the basket into four parts with an X.
Unfold the note, something she wrote with feeling
handwritten and signed
and take it with bare fingers to the pilot light
as it burns, hold it over the side of the basket
and let the ashes drift away.
Release it at the last instant you can bear.
Three mementos, wrapped in a plain cloth
without strong associations of its own:
What have you brought?
An empty wine bottle?
Perhaps something you find too valuable
to throw from a balloon?
The newest item, the one you last received,
will be the first that you let go.
Take it to one point in the basket
hold it in both hands above the ground
remember what it meant to you
feel its presence in your hands
then drop it.
As it falls, imagine a silver ribbon unrolling:
concentrate on the time between this moment
and the one when it entered your life.
A bit farther on, do the same thing
with your second keepsake
from the opposite side.
As it falls, cast your mind back again
to the first time you saw it.
With the momentum of your first recollection
this remembrance will be stronger.
When you drop the oldest token (a little farther yet)
standing at a third point
pushing backwards, feeling how long ago it was
your remembrance will shake the basket
like a hearty gust of wind
and your separation will be complete.
The fourth point is for you – stand there now.
It will carry you to the end of your journey
and release you to the ground.
When you land, you should be too far away
to see the place where you left.
Return to your friend, wherever she is
touch her hand and say, “I have left her.”
Spend the rest of the night alone.
Drink some hot tea and fall asleep.
When you awaken, your heart will be untroubled.