The sweetest goodbye

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight. What more is there to say than goodnight? – Jimmy Durante

Inspiration for Allô, bonjour, perhaps stick and bubblegum (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

“Allô, bonjour,” says the bird.

“Allô, bonjour,” it says again three days later.

“Allô, bonjour!” say the others that have gathered around it on this bright, sunny last day of June.

In a couple hours, the movers will arrive to pick up my furniture and my packed boxes. There is an apartment to clean, a rental car to pick up, an Internet modem to drop off. For the moment, though, these birds. Blue, and yellow. Peaceful, beautiful.

“Allô, bonjour!” I say back to them.

Making of Allô, bonjour (30 June 2021, Café Regular du Nord, Berkeley Place, Brooklyn)
Allô, bonjour (5 July 2021)

At dusk, there is nothing left to do. At dusk, the apartment is empty and clean. Clean and empty. On the kitchen counter, however, a box of cleaning supplies.

“Wipe down the top of the kitchen cabinets,” says the box of cleaning supplies, “Give the fridge another once-over! Wash the windows, too, at least from the inside!”

But what are the tops of kitchen cabinets no one can see to Sophie? What importance an old fridge that’s as clean as it will ever be? As for the windows, this is the city; they will always appear dirty. Sophie wants to go outside, and Sophie is right. It’s my last night in Brooklyn. What am I doing in this empty apartment listening to a box of cleaning supplies?

Outside, then.

“Allô, bonsoir,” the city says.

Allô, bonsoir (7 July 2021)
Bisous, bisous (11 July 2021)

Adelphi Street is quiet. Myrtle Avenue less so. Quiet again on Willoughby, still closed to traffic in the evenings since the early days of Covid. In Fort Greene Park, the fireflies. Everywhere.

“Bisous, bisous,” they say. “Bisous, bisous. Bisous, bisous.”

Sophie leads us up towards the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. The skyline over Manhattan flashes with lightening. Soon, it will flash over Brooklyn; the storm is coming this way. But not for a while yet. Sophie and I do what others are doing: we stop for a while; we sit on the steps in front of the monument to watch the light show. And it occurs to me: there are things you will remember forever, others you forget. The fireflies, the lightning over Manhattan, the soft voices of people speaking around me, the sound of the city just outside the park: this I will remember. The sweetest goodbye. To think I would have missed it if not for Sophie; if not for God who had sent her to me.

The wind picks up, a drop of rain: you have a long drive ahead of you in the morning. Another flash of lightning, a rumble with it this time: hurry home and get your rest.

“Allez, bonne nuit,” the city says.

“Bonne nuit, Brooklyn,” I say, “Bonne nuit.”

Making of Allez, bonne nuit (13 July 2021)
Allez, bonne nuit (13 July 2021)
Scotch tape markings on a window for Allez, bonne nuit (Olneyville, Providence)
Tar stain for Allô, bonsoir (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)
Sidewalk cracks for Bisous, bisous (Federal Hill, Providence)

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