The Art of Saying Goodbye

by Nilofer Ashraff
Dedicated to Borders Singapore, 2011

a mother stands at the door of her empty house;
moving truck waiting impatiently;
her husband screaming the time;
her children going ‘Muuuuuuuuummmm!’
all falls on deaf ears
as she traces the memories in her mind;
ticking each one off the checklist.

looking at the empty bookshelves,
through glass doors,
transforms me into that mother with a checklist.

at nineteen; music section,
teenage lust sips in as my eyes catch hold of
tapered faded blue jeans clinging on to legs like second skin;
plain black tee highlighting skinny arms that could crush me if they wanted to;
headphones protecting royal hair as eyes carefully read titles of songs that scream
into ears.
I spy till he walks away, disappears to the rest of his life, before,
touching the same compact disc;
only to discover Armour for Sleep, a band that will become my lover through sleepless nights.


at twenty; travel section;
a month before going on a month long adventure.
Footprints travel guide, uncovered.
Footprints that eventually became my Bible
for backpacking through Thailand.


wooden incense of punk planets; poetry magazines; Spider-Man comics;
overhearing comforting piercing chattering of children while browsing picture books;
life returning to weary eyes after discovering 3 books for the price of 2.


soft shoulder length hair of the cashier
I have a crush on since I was twenty-one.
only ever had one conversation with him
I discovered how bad I was at guessing ages.
thought he was thirty; turns out he was turning forty.


at twenty-two; entrance;
Greg Moterson signing two books;
commenting on my name;
taking a picture with the both of us;
before joking that you were all ready for Afghanistan,
after noticing the purple backpack on your back.


at twenty-two; art section;
the way your face cringed
when I read colourful secrets of men and women
from postcards that rested between our thighs.


a mother stands with her back to her empty house;
smiling at her agitated family;
unable to whisper goodbyes
just as how,
my hands are unable to paste a stamp
on this goodbye postcard for this place where memories were born
just as how,
my lips were never capable
of kissing you goodbye.

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