The People Who Cannot Say Goodbye

By Merritt Malloy

There are people who cannot say goodbye

They are born this way

This is how they die

They are the keepers of promises

What moves them does not wear out

Their loyalty will tear apart your clocks

These are the people who hear the music in songs

They are vow carriers

The grandmothers who always leave the porch light on

No one is lost to the one who sees

These are the women widowed by men they never married

These are the girls who wait even when you don’t come

These are the mothers of orphans

They can turn a fake into an original

They will hear the prayer in your self-contempt

As distance is measured, people do not end

It is one of those stories that cannot be written down except across a lifetime of open doors

There is a holding on beyond the letting go

There is a reunion in everybody’s chest

This is how we come to make a family from strangers

This is how we light candles

There are people who will remember you when you meet them

These are the people you can always call at night

They are humans turned angels by your asking

With each separation they go to seed again

There is a moment of returning on the other side of every leaving

It is not something I can prove to you in language

This is what we pray about

…We can kill what we desire and it grows back

There is something that does not wear out

It is the third part of any two people who join

It opens and closes

There are people alone who are not apart

This is why we listen to the madman when he speaks

People change but they do not stop

This is how we learn ‘forever’

There are people you can count on

They are the keepers of promises

They are candles lit from each other

They can teach us eternity

We can get what we give

This is the instruction

There are people who do not say goodbye

As distance is measured

You are one of them