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"Exit" by Rita Dove

TFTL Rita Dove headshot 2023
Photo by Fred Viebahn



Rita Dove is the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. Ms. Dove was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-95, the Virginia Poet Laureate from 2004-06, and the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for her book Thomas and Beulah. Lifetime Learning is honored to highlight three poems from Rita Dove. "Exit" is our January offering. 






Just when hope withers, a reprieve is granted.

The door opens onto a street like in the movies,

clean of people, of cats; except it is your street

you are leaving. Reprieve has been granted,

“provisionally”— a fretful word.


The windows you have closed behind

you are turning pink, doing what they do

every dawn. Here it’s gray; the door

to the taxicab waits. This suitcase,

the saddest object in the world.


Well, the world’s open. And now through

the windshield the sky begins to blush,

as you did when your mother told you

what it took to be a woman in this life.


Reprinted from Collected Poems 1974–2004 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016) by permission of the author.

TFTL Taxi cab exit