The small alphabet of departure

My earliest photo with my grandpa, somewhere in Colorado

My earliest photo with my grandpa, somewhere in Colorado


by Naomi Shihab Nye

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 longer: leaves,

cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Thing 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,

like silence following sound.

Adios, Grandpa. I love you.


E. H. Baeza, July 31, 1924 – November 6, 2014

5 thoughts on “The small alphabet of departure

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