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On Letting Go

I have a Bird in spring

It’s been almost 9 years since my oldest son (M) left home and moved across the country, some 3000+ miles away, to live on his own. He would come back home for Christmas. A few years in, my youngest son (T) had cemented his belief that Christmas was THAT: the coming home of his brother. That M’s visit was Santa’s ultimate Christmas apparition. Some years later we moved. Now between us was not just one continent, but also one ocean. And M’s coming home became Christmas, whatever the time of year that he may visit: a cause for celebration.

Our family has been a family of leavers for generations. Often these departures were against our wills. Often they were of our own construction. And more often than not they were accompanied by the silent, yet terrifying acceptance of the fact that they may well be the last goodbyes. So deeply engrained in our subconscious were the lessons of loss, historical and personal. This dance of reunions and departures has long established itself in our lives, with their euphoric highs of encounters, and of aching emptiness of the days following the goodbyes. It is as predictable as water obeying the laws of physics, flowing to and fro, in ebb and flow. You *know* you ought not to go to that island when the tide is low.. and yet… And the tide returns, as voluminous as all our mothers’ and grandmothers’ rivers of tears, at all the airports, around the whole world. (perhaps, that’s why there are tides?)

Our last Christmas was in March, a couple of weeks ago. We spent a happy delirious week together, family reunited. Until finally, the day came to say goodbye. I drove M. to the airport, waited for him to go through security, waved goodbye over the gray polyestered crowds, my rivers held back by nerve dams, and decided that there was no point in keeping on staring into the distance. He was gone. Instead of returning home, I drove to one of my favorite bookstores in Barcelona, La Central. I thought I would reinforce my nerve dams with piles of books, and then plunge into the cool reservoir waters of images and words.

What I found was neither a match for the dam, nor for the reservoir it contained. I found the thing high above — a Bird.

A book* of slight built, elegant, beguiling and deep.. as the blue-green-blacks and pinks of its cover; a puzzle-like accordion with words that could be read whichever way – a poem, encrusted in paintings. 

*The book, ‘Tengo un pájaro en primavera’ was published, in Spanish, by Savanna Books in Valencia, Spain in 2018. The poem ‘I have a Bird in spring’ is by Emily Dickinson. Art is by Paula Bonet.

I have a Bird in spring

I have a Bird in spring
Which for myself doth sing —
The spring decoys.
And as the summer nears —
And as the Rose appears,
Robin is gone.

Yet do I not repine
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown —
Learneth beyond the sea
Melody new for me
And will return.

Fast in safer hand
Held in a truer Land
Are mine —
And though they now depart,
Tell I my doubting heart
They’re thine.

In a serener Bright,
In a more golden light
I see
Each little doubt and fear,
Each little discord here

Then will I not repine,
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown
Shall in distant tree
Bright melody for me


~ Emily Dickinson 

She may not have meant it like that, but what Emily told me that day is this: 

Let go. Let go. 
What is yours, is not yours to keep. 
We will see each other again. 
Next time, you will bring a whole new world to me. 
As I will bring a whole new world to you.