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 your furniture and your 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!” you 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 your last night in Brooklyn. What are you 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 you 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. You and Sophie do what others are doing: you stop for a while; you sit on the steps in front of the monument to watch the light show. And it occurs to you: there are things you will remember forever, others you will 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 you will remember. The sweetest goodbye. To think you would have missed it if not for Sophie; if not for God who had sent her to you.

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,” you say, “Bonne nuit.”

Allez, bonne nuit (13 July 2021)
Making of 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)

5 thoughts on “The sweetest goodbye”

  1. I enjoyed this one. I could relate to it as some of the other stories as well. Brings me to the moment and can feel it too.

  2. Definitely can relate. As a side note – I believe that we all have a love for birds. So free and moving from one place to another year over year. Bring me back to my days when our father always feed his birds and built them homes.

  3. This one made me cry thinking about change and loss yet also remembering that regardless of such things… the toddler ( the dog Sophie in this case) is oblivious to such change. She wants to do what is fun. I pray everyday that we all look at our time spent through a child’s ( a dog’s) point of view. If it ain’t fun, why do we keep doing it.. Sophie reminds us of this.


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