What is the word for goodbye?

There Is No Word for Goodbye

Sokoya, I said, looking through
the net of wrinkles into
wise black pools
of her eyes.

What do you say in Athabascan
when you leave each other?
What is the word
for goodbye?

A shade of feeling rippled
the wind-tanned skin.
Ah, nothing, she said,
watching the river flash.

She looked at me close.
We just say, Tlaa. That means,
See you.
We never leave each other.
When does your mouth
Say goodbye to your heart?

She touched me light
as a bluebell.
You forget when you leave us;
you’re so small then.
We don’t use that word.

We always think you’re coming back,
but if you don’t,
we’ll see you some place else.
You understand.
There is no word for goodbye.

–Mary TallMountain

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Chatter Random Friday

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I love this, profound for me now. Recently lost family members, and am a heart/cancer patient myself, On another note, I am a longtime fan of your books, Dana, Thank you so much. Shirley G

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