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When we say good-bye to something or someone, the word means more than we say. We hold thoughts and images of what and who we leave behind. Our work, when we say Adios, is incomplete. We recall the memories of things and people we left behind, as we said and waved good-bye. The memories bring smiles, tears, shrugs, and frowns, among other features, to our face and body.

When we say good-bye, there is always something and someone calling us back, perhaps only in our mind as we reach out. The space fills with questions about what we left and a sense of wondering about what is happening with that thing or that person.

Naomi Shihab Nye captured the essence of good-bye as it rolls off our tongues and as we tap our fingers marroed to it. Thoughts and images fill our minds as we reflect on what that word, regardless of language, might mean.

It is a good word, rolling off the tongue;

no matter what language you were born with

use it. Learn where it begins,

the small alphabet of departure,

how long it takes to think of it,

then say it, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,

it shines, it shines.

Wear it on every finger

till your hands dance,

touching everything easily,

letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.

Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.

If you are known for anything,

let it be the way you rise out of sight

when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,

cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,

what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you

before you knew what it meant

or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.

Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,

About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

14 responses »

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster


  2. Love Nye. Have for years. I love the Hawaiian word ALOHA. It can be hello, goodbye, great to see you, whatever. Literally it means, “the breath of life to you.” Leaving all doors open, as island people do so well. Aloha, Ivon! 🙂

  3. sweet words
    lingering 🙂

  4. Pingback: Adios | By the Mighty Mumford

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