I excel at the art of avoiding goodbye
my exits have a quality of fleeing

I am the person who is at the party and then
not at the party

not flushing-flustered cinderella who couldn’t keep her shoes on
I know exactly when to slip into the shadows and be gone

I neglect to say goodbye not only because it isn’t fun

but also because exits, planned or spontaneous,
elegant or messy,
are generally complex and time-consuming,
and the part of my mind that handles logistics and details,
calculates angles
doesn’t (can’t) have room for the amorphous organic splattering
of endings

as if there’s only so much processing power
and all my clarity must be devoted to the getting-out and getting-through,
meeting the pain comes later
when safe passage has been procured and I land in the new place

and sometimes there are other reasons

for example when you dearly want to share the goodbye but
[anything you say can be used against you in a court of law]
and your words have too much echoing power
so you turn them off

or when goodbye entails
demands for explanations you don’t have
you need your energy to make it
through the gate

a sensitive introvert can’t throw a goodbye soiree
and if you go have goodbye-tea with one friend,
everyone else will want too

anyway, there’s no time for that
with packing to be done and crying in the shower,
so you just leave
and send postcards later: {sorry-love-sorry}

as you wish to be in it

we had a sign at the retreat center I ran for five years,

enter as you wish to be in it
exit as you wish to continue

this falls into the category of things that are
simple but not easy

trying to “succeed” at this gets frustrating fast
but if you hold it in your heart as a seed of light
that is enough

my beautiful lover has gone

he was supposed to leave friday, but I requested a weekend
to be with each other and the exit

I wanted to introduce to him the idea of [weekend]
since he has no concept for that, too busy working himself
into the ground

but also I wanted to give this exit
the presence I generally pack away for later
in the interest of postponing pain

now he is gone

I am writing
not to remember and not to forget
but to exit as I wish to continue:

being there for all of it
practicing shiva and shiva (both meanings)
letting grief take the form of words and light

here it is

three days of beautiful goodbyes: a story

you feel the moment he turns onto your street, like always,
you used to think you must have heard his vehicle
but even on a bike, you feel him as he gets close

he brings you a present
he’s never done that before, that’s not his style
he’s a mountain man, he’s probably never brought anyone a present

it isn’t something you need but you understand he’s giving it to you
in the same way a four year old who loves you and sees you are crying
wants you to have his red toy truck

you head out to Lenora’s for barefoot blues which is not really barefoot
and not really blues but who cares
dancing is blurry magic
in the morning he pulls you to him for sleepy kisses and immediately falls back asleep
sprawled out, limbs everywhere, head burrowing under pillows
your heart is almost unbearably full

lady knight

you remove bread dough from the refrigerator,
curl up on the couch to write things that want to be written
he comes downstairs at noon-thirty, groggy, green t-shirt and jeans,
wraps you up in his arms

you type on your phone “last night was pretty great”
but it changes last to lady, and he pretends you’re talking about yourself
as if Lady Night is the name of your latest secret identity

you add a K to make it lady knight, and he laughs


you walk together in the rain to brunch,
holding onto each other under the tiniest chalk-covered umbrella because it is actually raining-raining which never happens

speaking of things that never happen:
somehow he’s gone forty years without brunch

and speaking of other things that never happen
— an unheard-of miracle that he can’t appreciate —
you only have to wait five minutes for a table

you wonder, in an odd surreal moment,
if you look like twins instead of lovers:
pale, tired, long-bodied dancers with matching green eyes, matching sad smiles

like a ship

you sit across from each other and can’t not beam at each other
as has been true since you met, and long before you knew you would be lovers

you both admire the loft of plants and imagine it in a round house
he teases you about the tiny tucked-away-up-high round windows
so that’s why you like this place, it’s like a ship,
and kisses your hand

you talk about going to turkey together someday, and really, who knows:
maybe you will and maybe you won’t

honey, whiskey, cake

snippets of conversation reach you and make no sense,
the young woman next to you has just bought a one-way ticket to peru
her friend, who looks like a model, is explaining that you can’t just
bring gardens to people who don’t want them

you see a sign for honey whiskey cake and have trouble
perceiving the words as one thing instead of three


the food is pure sensual delight, the bowls are exquisite
the rain is soft, the space slowly emptying out and there
is all the time in the world

you don’t want to leave but you recognize
the innocent child-like wish to stop time and postpone the inevitable
so you channel all of your adult powers to stand up and go

halfway to the park you burst into tears
he holds you and kisses you and says I know, sweet girl, me too

your storm passes and you pick up a few things at the grocery store
the wind is whipping up leaves but the air is warm and just when you get home
it starts to rain again

few words

you snuggle in bed and watch an old episode of Longmire from the first season

Longmire thinks the suicide note is pretty short to be a suicide note
Vic teases him, “maybe he was a man of few words, I know someone like that”

your lover is also a man of few words
and you are someone of no words
he says, I know a woman of very, very few words, and you grin


Longmire doesn’t want to put down the horse with all the burns,
he wants to wait and tend to it, he says he likes the long shot

you ask, do we like the long shots?
your lover thinks about it and says yeah, we do, kissing your cheek,
though of course the horse has to die at the end and you already know this

Longmire says to the horse,
“you don’t have to keep fighting, you’ve already proven how brave and tough you are, now there is peace”


you curl up in each other’s arms for a nap but then you start sobbing again
he holds you and the green trees outside the window are wet and also his eyes
and you are so unfathomably sad, about this ending and also about how
this is the first time you’ve had a real weekend together —
you should always get a weekend like this, every fucking week, and it is not fair

you ask him to tell you something sweet and he says,
you are sweet and this is sweet and I am sweet on you
you say, I can’t believe this is happening what are we going to do
and he says I don’t know sweet girl, I don’t know, we’re going to be okay
and you say how and he doesn’t know that either, and you kiss through tears

he holds you so tightly and you listen to his heartbeat and your breathing
softens and you realize that this moment NOW is treasure,
as good as it gets and then some,
and if you had an eternity of moments like this you wouldn’t know how sweet they are

and if everything ended now

then this would be a pretty beautiful moment, the most beautiful
and you might as well fill up on the endless well of thank-you heart gratitude

so you do that

not as a should, and not even as the only logical option,
but because thank-you is the truest and most sincere way
to meet this unique breath-moment in time,
and the fact that it is also bittersweet and painful
does not negate the specialness


he curls up so close behind you, arms around you, kissing the back of your neck
and you both fall asleep for a sweet perfect hour until
you wake up to his horrible alarm which sounds like the loudest crickets
and wonder why you love him at all

then he holds you with so much sweetness and you remember,
but also you think “I need something better than love which comes with loud crickets”

it feels so good inside this warm close perfect embrace and you say this
and he says yes, and you say well except for the heartache part
and he says yes

your eyes hurt from crying or maybe they hurt from
all the things you don’t want to see

yes, you are deeply entwined with someone who doesn’t understands rest
you live by “don’t push”, he lives by “push more”
and he has pushed himself over an edge and needs to go heal far away, and he will or he won’t, it isn’t up to you

kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss loss

he leaves for a few hours to have a goodbye dinner-and-movie with friends
you text him kisses but autocorrect chooses kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss loss
instead and you’ve already sent it

you practice dance drills and channel Wisest You who says:

you will get through this my love, you will, you will,
see how wonderfully brave you are
choosing conscious goodbyes instead of
running away from them like we usually do, it is safe to be here now


you feel him on the street again
already heading to open the door before his knock
he says WHOA YOU LOOK SEXY and you laugh happily because you
never get tired of that

you head to the blue diamond around 11pm
the band is loud and raucous
the place is packed and it reminds you of chicago,
you sip whiskey, until the music pulls you to the dance floor: magic


you are hyper-aware of everyone on the small crowded dance floor
though not aware of anything about them,
they are moving points in space, to dance between,
you and your lover are made of light, anchored constellations of light,
whirling reconfiguring constellations of light,

you are deep in the connection of being connected,
movement and play, dancing small and contained because of the
limitations of the space and the points of light
you fit in his arms so well, a well of joy, you spark together

the band plays a slow song, a ballad, this one’s for the lovers, she says
slow sweet bluesy funk

you are made of light but you are not light, not flitting
think panther not butterfly


you forget to be sad and you forget to cry because there is nothing but now and
now is forever and perfect and feels so good
Melanie is singing Aretha Franklin and absolutely killing it
dancing is so right, the best language for life and for
everything you could say to each other: it doesn’t need to be translated
because it doesn’t mean anything in any language other than dance,
if you tried to translate it, you’d only get fragments of spark-intensity-joy

only when the show is over do you realize
you may never get to do this again

good for the soul

That was some good dancing, a man says outside on the street,
he draws out the word good, and says it again:
good for the soul, it’s good for the soul to dance like that
yep, says your lover, good stuff

on the drive home his right hand rests on your leg, and you
can’t stop staring at it,
have there ever been fingers this beautiful, has there ever been a hand like this

you wonder why you don’t do this every week,
dancing is the play of delight in life, and you dance so deliciously together,
oh right because he works himself to death and is never around
and this is why

this is the why to every question and now you are home


you dislike the phrase making love
not only because it’s cheesy but because, as you realize now,
it’s inaccurate

nothing is being made at all
it’s more like IMMERSING in love, or BEING love
you don’t make love together, you are love, together

you cry a little while being love together,
not because he is leaving, you are too immersed in immersing to remember this,
you cry because the intensity of joy-pleasure-sweetness and wild-vulnerable-passion
is so overwhelming and

he holds you for the longest time, with so much love, and you think,
this is what it must feel like to be a lioness and a jewel and a flower at once
you fall asleep in each other’s arms, telling stories about once upon a time


bye bye sweet girl, he says, with an admiring glance at
you draped over midnight blue sheets in black shorts and black lace
and he goes to do work stuff for six hours
because he still doesn’t understand weekends

you meet at wolf & bear and eat sabich, your homesickness comfort food
you burst into tears two more times
you say, being in love is stupid and I hate it
he laughs and agrees but points out the beautiful sweet parts
you know he is right but you aren’t done crying

his toiletry kit gives up the ghost, he’s had it since 1993,
you don’t have anything from 1993
you can’t even imagine a life where something from 1993 is still here

you water plants and touch their leaves and say thank you

the weekend is over

you don’t sleep much
you dream about sheds
it’s monday somehow and he kisses you and kisses your palm and
presses it to his heart and says okay sweet girl and kisses you again

you think about the line diamonds on the soles of her shoes
and you imagine glowing gems at your feet

he goes to finish packing and then comes back for a last goodbye
sweet luscious kisses
you manage not to cry
he says okay beautiful and bye beautiful
and kisses your palm and your wrist and your lips again
and he is gone and you need

you need to do something (let something = anything)
but there is too much sadness to concentrate,
so you make a casserole
and admire the beautiful roundness of potato slices
the comfort of spices

this must be what being a grownup is like
you make casserole and you don’t run away

enter as you wish to be in it, exit as you wish to continue

part of grief is the retelling
and part of grief is letting things be as they are

I do not need advice (I never need advice)
but company is so very welcome

you can come sit with me, or leave pebbles, hearts and stones
you can share love, appreciation or anything sparked for you
or practice your own forms of
entering as you wish to be in it

The Fluent Self