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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf American Poetry: An Anthology

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Long Goodbyes

I miss all of the long goodbyes
of my parents’ guests
taking their leave by not leaving

when it was time to go. Someone would sign
Better go home we but hours would pass
around our round table—

the bowls of our hands offering
confession after confession
assuring us that we are we—

before anyone stands up.
Then others, sighing, will stand up
slowly and slowly walk

through our house, pausing
where the walls offer stories,
reasons to stay longer

and touch more things with our hands.
I remember how long,
how wonderfully they stood

unwilling to open the front door,
signing away with warm faces
and hugging goodbye again

before going gently into the night.
My family would huddle to watch
their cars’ headlights roll away

but pause to fl ash in the Deaf way,
waving goodbye to our house.
How we children dashed inside

to light switches for our house
to wave back goodbye,
light to light bright in the night!

Now that I am grown
and have my own family, do come
for a visit but do not leave
when it is time to go. Sign, do sign
Better go home we and our hands
will make time go suddenly slow.


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