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Sometimes I Say Goodbye

by Kristen Tracy

The air is amorous, people
are crossing bridges to get
home. The moon is up,
lighting their cartops,
driving them into the half-dark
of my neighborhood. I sit cross-legged
three stories above them wondering
whether death is arming itself in everyone
who’s passing home.

Romance is never new and seldom
good to me. But tonight the phone
line is tripping around my bed.
Even two months fresh
this love runs me
ragged with details.
It’s late and neither one
of us is getting off
of the line. Smell the grass I
tell myself and ask what
do we know about life’s
steady passing or the
quick wants of our calls.
Sometimes I want to
go, sometimes I say goodbye
to people and their whole lives
start walking away, and relieved
a bit I say just go,
just go. Three weeks
before my sister died I
walked out onto our cement
patched steps and held
open our screen door with my
laundry basket hoisted under
my arm pressed
to my hip. I told her
goodbye and added
I will see you
soon, not knowing the size
of the lie I was
starting in on. By this
time I can see her
hair coming around her
shoulders a bit slipping down
her back as she turns and goes and
that’s it.

It gets time to say
goodbye to him and I do
everything to keep him on
the line. I tell him about
red lights I don’t always
stop for, how I don’t let up
on the gas at all and
that glide through intersections
without looking left or
right. Then, I am ready to
say goodbye, I have offered
it up in conservative
waves, but I don’t want
them easy any more. I want
them hard as her death
was. And the guttering
style of her life, the way
the car, like every bad choice that set
her motherless and inside of that car,
flinched – that’s the way her sleeping
body was just a disguise
for her death-marked teenaged
life – that’s the way death
maneuvered itself into her.
Whatever the real
truth is, everyone else
involved here keeps
living. We can all be
happy again and I’m getting
involved with someone I keep
close to over
the phone. I fall
in love like I’m already
at the bottom of everything
so I should just go, just go.
I am more loyal than her
already gone life, but not
necessarily to a new lover.
I sleep with her
up in my head and she is
always fourteen now. Always
happy with herself wearing
makeup, ashening up her
pink face. Pulling her
grown-up bangs back
behind her ears, laughing out
loud from the point in
our front room. Saying goodbye
with her anchored body
pivoting on her heel
and going away.