The Science of Goodbye

For Eloise (3/15/12 - 1/29/21)


I’m here
-- the snow falling 


-Kobayashi Issa




How could this goat who practiced

with such devotion her grazing, 

weaving acres upon acres of tall grass

in July, red clover and bluegrass, 

thieving leaves from autumn, 

gathering tapestries that trailed her 

as she trod swiftly through space, 

the bluebirds silently

reverent, birches bowing to her elegance

and understated grace -- how 

could this goat, who was birthed into my hands 

years ago by her mother, Orion,

having browsed undetected 

through the fabric of time, suddenly appear 

old and wind-swept at my feet, 

blanketed in snow, compressed by falling ice flowers

clarifying her last breath?

Just yesterday I read of a Vermont farmer,

Wilson Bentley, who studied snowflakes 

as they fell, over a century ago,

and discovered that no one single design

ever repeated. Each one was unique. 

To prove it he snapped hundreds 

even thousands of portraits, 

so as to discern each one’s having been 

before it was “lost forever,”melted

or sublimated, a billion tiny farewells, 

              mastering the science of 


It was reported that he used for his backgrounds 

a rectangular swath of black velvet

with which to catch, as it fell, 

each “letter from the sky,”

not unlike what gathers now 

in the very centers of her eyes. O 

Eloise, your pupils have absorbed 

into their cores the countless 

impressions that each day gifted,

each season presented, each morning

and afternoon and dusk 

offered up, a lifetime spent with us

here on this hillside.

Tell me, sweet girl, 

did they all swirl inward at the end,

did your universe of faint impressions,

squeezed from the velvet, 

pour down a new axis, funnel into 

a felt center, in the fashion 

of the black hole 

that I watched on the screen

as a child, alone in my room, a final 

rush of sensations, recouped

in reverse? 


Did you see your life in reverse, 

as I do in this instant? Feel yourself young 

and weightless, free of all aches,

heart thumping triumphantly,

ready to explore every thread?

Did you recognize those eyes 

of the kid staring back at you

who has sprung suddenly to her feet,

emerging from a puddle of napping peers

to arch and stretch her back, 

then BOUND with reckless glee

into a snowdrift that a late spring blizzard 


                   white goat in white snow!

The pure joy she exudes, suffused

and backlit.

                   Snapping the photo

at that moment--no doubt over-exposed 

and washed out

by the sun suspended above

in a bluebird sky--would reveal:

                                                            two tiny black holes

disembodied, adrift, 

                           orbs of wonder, freely flowing.

Hold us there, 

                   o Lord, hold us fast 

in that stare, freeze that frame,

make it tidal, so we can witness her declare, 

one last time, I am here. One last time,

I am here. 


-lucas farrell