Week 6 Poem of the Week: ‘On the day she leaves’ by Andrea Komova

Our week 6 poet, Andrea, talks to us about her use of poetry to connect with others and portray struggles with mental health

CN: discussion of mental health struggles and suicidality

On the day she leaves

On the day she leaves,
expect her call
expect her saying all those things
which needed to escape from the castle of her mind
be born and breathe the light
of a new day
when there is just a memory
of her voice

On the day she leaves,
expect to find a half-drunk glass
in the cellars of hearts
which she will be drinking
even long after life
enjoying the bohème
of songs and melodies which coloured their days

On the day she leaves,
collect all the tears you shed
and pour them into a river nearby
cause that day she will bathe in those tears
and they will clean her soul
with the calmness
which resides in all of you

On the day she leaves,
do not look at your watch
do not count the minutes
just surrender to the wind
as she will be speaking through the air
and in a loving way touching your face
like she used to
when the time was just a never-ending race of memories

On the day she leaves,
write her a letter, with a nice stamp
and send it to the southern lands
as her mind will find its peace
in waters of solitude, waters of glass and sand
without a shame

And above all, on the day she leaves,
please, enjoy the sunset
dance with the clouds
for her, for her…
for the path that you all walked through
as I hope
deeply and immensely
and above all…
that on the day she leaves
the sun will just forget to rise…

Image credit: Keira Quirk

I was eager to talk to Andrea first about the overarching themes in ‘On the day she leaves’, which she points out also feed into her other poems. One such is the shared human experience of wrongdoing. Everyone “fights with bad habits and wrong behaviour,” but for Andrea, “the greatest problem is not the wrong deeds themselves but hypocrisy, which is particularly bad because in a way you think that you are a saint; you don’t want to see that those wrong deeds are normal for being a human.”

Another theme includes “the soul and how we should nurture it,” which I pointed out ties in nicely with the imagery of nature throughout Andrea’s work. In this, she is “heavily influenced by Slovak poetry” which often paints pictures of rivers and forests. The natural imagery in ‘On the day she leaves’, particularly of the sun, expresses an additional hopefulness in the face of internal struggles.

Indeed, Andrea was keen to express that the discourse on mental health is one of her main motivators, but is also, by nature, a stigmatised topic, making it “difficult to navigate.”

“When the first poem of mine was published it took an insane amount of courage; I would say that even now it takes a lot of courage because it feels like getting naked.”

“My main reason for writing is to prevent people feeling alone. I don’t want anyone to suffer, especially when it comes to mental health or inner trauma. The inner struggle often is a theme of my poems, and it is through this that people connect and see that they are not alone. You can really have the best life in the world but still suffer inside.”

Image credit: Keira Quirk

Andrea recounts struggling herself upon moving to the UK for the first time, which in her poetry entailed mastery of an entirely new language and poetic form. She “started writing in [her] primary language back home, and it was always aiming to express [her] emotions as well as to connect with others.”

“When I came to the UK five years ago, I completely lost this connection with language because suddenly I was in a foreign environment and my poems didn’t make sense anymore in my primary language. People don’t realise quite how disempowering it is to suddenly lose such a huge part of your identity and not be able to express yourself so eloquently; my Slovak vocabulary was beautiful, and I could play with the pictures in the poem. I think it took five years and a lot of courage to start writing again and start writing in another language.”

As for her poetic influences, Andrea names several Slav and Russian poets. First and foremost is Charles Bukowski, the German-American writer whose poetry explored various socio-economic problems often associated with his adopted home city of Los Angeles. Her favoured Russian poets include Vladimir Mayakovsky, Boris Pasternak, Jaroslav Seifert, as well as the Slovak Emil Boleslav Lukac who became symbolic of Slovak interwar poetry.

Image credit: Ruth Pavey

However, it is the poetry of others which has the biggest influence: “the ones that I read on blogs, those of my friends when they write.”

“I don’t want to pursue a degree in poetry, but I just want people to connect with me, for them to know that they are not alone in their struggle, and I express it through poetry. Two of my poems have actually been published Sentire Zine, which was awesome; I really appreciated the opportunity they gave me and other young poets.”

Social media has also been a useful tool for Andrea to spread her message through a poetic medium; she recalls posting this very poem on her private Instagram account, to which she had positive response, including from those struggling with health conditions. For Andrea, a “suicidal poem then became about something else – about the fight for life – and it felt like I was doing something useful for other people.” Though she doesn’t plan on a career as a poet, Andrea prioritises connecting in a tangible way with as many people as she can through her poetry.

Thank you to Andrea for this week’s submission! If you would also like to be featured, send in your poem to [email protected] We would love to hear from you!

Feature image credits: Keira Quirk

Related articles recommended by this author: