The Goodbyes

by Adrianne Kalfopoulou

I want to tell you about saying goodbye to C,
a goodbye in an era of goodbyes.
In the red-inflected winds and days near sea
as the Euro sank, we drank incessantly
and it was good, but C was fired
and did not know where she would go
in that summer of heat and drink
and terror too – everyone with an opinion
but no solution – it made us think
of what had brought us to this brink,
a disposition or indifference – “Cast a cold eye
On Life, on Death” says Yeats, yet C
packed boxes with great care, labeled each,
knew what had gone to whom, the books
and clothes with me, a couch and bed
and stove with another friend.
The country had lost its way from where
we could or might still hope but we still went
to vote. C brewed sage tea,
I did a supermarket run in case
our Euro-world might cease to be.
Then C told me her watch was broken in a dream,
her sunglasses, too. She was lifting boxes,
ticked off a list of labels like POESIE, described
the glue she used, that the lenses stayed
smeared with it, and she couldn’t see.
The boxes, heavy and thickly taped, piled up
in my basement. We knew
when we would later speak of this
across the wide divide of time,
we’d somehow manage to speak of this.
For now C sautéed eggplant with tomatoes
for our evening meal, fried onion and basil leaves.
She had given me her best wines to keep.
Save them for a special day, she said.
One was a Kir-Yanni rosé, my favorite.
There were also two bottles of champagne
we drank the night before she left.
It was a lovely evening on the balcony
when we spoke of lost loves, and books –
how we loved our lost loves, how they disappeared
like countries, I don't want to leave Greece
but things can change, she said. 
We spoke too of our goodbyes
to projects we didn’t finish, the ways we felt
such lust for them, and then like lust
they faded even if we spoke of them for a very long time,
and of Proust, of teaching in the classroom,
how that too was coming to an end, and C
would be on her way to Cévennes.
I have no choice, she said again,
and added, but it’s okay.
We talked some more of the Euro group meeting
that evening after five months of meetings,
which was another kind of lust, and that night
I dreamt of a broken Barbie
someone had thrown into the back of my car.
I remembered how much I loved my dolls.
In a childhood of forgotten homes
I lay my Ken on top of my Barbie
and had them kiss – there were stories I made up
of lives in pink Mattel houses in a faraway land,
and remembered all the dolls I kept
in different states of dress and undress, some
whose hair I cut, one with a missing hand,
a box of them I don’t think I ever threw away.

Adrianne Kalfopoulou’s latest publication is Ruin, Essays in Exilic Living (2009); her work has appeared in online and print journals such as Hotel Amerika, Duende, the Harvard Review online and elsewhere. Her third poetry collection, A History of Too Much is forthcoming in spring 2018. Currently she heads the English and Modern Languages Dept at Derree College in Athens, Greece. Samples of work, blog posts, & obsessions can be found @