The Truth About Farewells by Sher Ting

The Truth About Farewells

As you grow older, you realise there are many ways to say goodbye
The eyes that used to meet along the length of an empty
hallway, now averted to admire the distance
The phone that used to ring, now swathed in silence
The smile that used to slip through a sea of faces, now retreated
into an escutcheon of thin-pressed lips

Unfinished sentences, unspoken prose, expired hopes –

You learn that goodbyes never come wrapped
in red and neon on the tail of caution
but show up uninvited at the door

They rarely come in conversations
but in the earth-shattering wordlessness
of a turned back receding into
distance and time;

never live up to expectation
but leave with questions in their wake

and when they arrive, always late, incessantly messy,
you can never make these guests feel at home—
They open every door and trammel through every room,
leave the doors open for the nights

when you’ve strung up
enough courage and even then,

you shake at the sound of their breath,
quiver at the thought of calling them by name
so you trap their whispers in your mind,
in the bitter aftertaste that lingers in your
mouth, the echoes that shake up your thoughts.

There, they resound endlessly till they
have robbed every breath from your lungs, seared
themselves into the pages of your memory

and you learn the hard way that goodbyes are never easy
but the nights—
the nights are the hardest part.

Sher Ting has lived in a land of eternal summer, otherwise known as Singapore, for 19 years before spending the next 5 years in medical school in Australia. She has been published in Trouvaille Review and has work forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Dreich magazine and Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine, among others. She is currently an editor of a creative arts-sharing space, known as INLY Arts.

photo by Tandem X Visuals