Goodbye Greeley

Goodbye Greeley

Goodbye Greeley (a poem for M)

We moved to Greeley Colorado out of desperation 
after my wife’s health crashed in 2013. 
We felt the trauma of unexpected circumstance
We felt like victims of some great injury
We were confused

It’s the town where she grew up, and her family still lived there

Those first few years after moving back were a really painful time in our life
There are volumes to write about those first few years of her being sick
When everything in her body was in chaos

I used to take long walks 
hour after hour, restless and needing an escape
I’d walk fences, walk the fields, walk the river, walk around the block
I spent time at my studio making art,
encrypting my pain, her pain, our pain, and our longings 
into the feathers, bones and sticks
that I found as I paced the landscape
projecting my feelings onto the natural world around me
and feeling them reverberate back

We were so disoriented and hurt and sad,
and I remember describe our life in those years
like we were crawling on our hands and knees in the forest,
in the pitch black looking for a way out
taking wrong terms, going painfully,
hitting obstacles suffering more damage
The unknown was everywhere back then

But slowly things improved, yet never in a straight line -
more of a two steps forward, one step back type of scenario

We trusted each other deeper and deeper through all this
and grew closer with her parents and mine
because sometimes it felt like they were all we had besides each other
They were the proof that despite all the suffering and damage, 

There was always love

I remember when Emi began to daydream again 
after losing the ability for a couple years after she got sick,

Before she got sick, we took daydreaming for granted,
never thinking it was some kind of privilege that could be revoked
But the day she got daydreaming back, felt like a revelation
When she could imagine options and choices and future selves

I don’t know if she even remembers that day,
when she started daydreaming again,
but for me in my healthy body,
waiting for her body and spirit to heal,
it was the day the clouds began to part
and I could see the blood come back into her cheeks
and the light come back into her eyes

So we kept crawling through that dark forest
and eventually crawling turned to walking
and we went forward together
and eventually we moved down the street
into her grandma’s old house

We had our own space now
after spending the first couple years in her childhood bedroom
at her parents house, we grew into a life together there,
asking questions about what life would be, for better or worse
grateful for progress even though it was usually small and hard earned

From this house that was ours together, Unit 36 on 4th Street
We’d look up through the skylight at the full moon from the kitchen in the dark together,
standing side by side with our arms touching, not saying much, just looking 
Or we’d go and watch lightning from the back patio 
and take deep breathes together, listening to the crickets and the thunder  
We’d burn palo Santo and walk the house in our pajamas
before bed when she’d had a rough day  
We’d watch the creek rise behind the house during storms,
seeing it turn from a trickle to a torrent sometimes in just minutes  
I might be around town somewhere when it start to rain 
and Emi would call me and say, “Can you come home and watch the creek?!”
I would dash back home to see the water rise together
sitting on the bench I made to sit next to the window

It was a small life, and we really didn’t have many friends for a while
so we’d make up little games on the floor with stones or beads
or we’d watch a show intertwined on the couch 
or read, or cook, or any of the other beautifully simple 
and commonplace things people do in a small life

We eventually grew into having friends and a life outside our house 
and made deep connections with people we’ll miss thoroughly when we move  
and Emi has continued to grow into a fuller, more healthy version of herself
a little bit everyday, yet that statement is always taken with a grain of salt

We moved here thinking we’d be in Greeley for six months, tops
But six months turned nearly into six years, and isn’t that just how life goes  
There were a lot of dark, dark times in those early years, 
but damn - there were some luminous ones too

A little while back, we had come to an awareness that Emi’s healing 
would not be a black and white thing, 
and there would be no final test to say she was 100% healed  
Like so many things in life, our health is a spectrum, and not a binary

If we wanted to move onto the next life chapter, 
we’d have to take the leap into that ever present unknown
So to make a long story short, that’s what we did.  
Somehow after as all those little moments had added up 
and threaded into one another,
I found myself waking up in our house, 
for the last time, on the last full day before we moved 
out of a house Emi had loved since she was a child, 
and now out of a house she has loved me in as an adult,
our many selves folding over each other

On the last night of the last full day, 
we replayed all the bright moments together 
as we sat on our mattress on the floor, our bed frame already sold, 
and the rest of the room just as empty
Clothes folded neatly on the floor, empty hangers in the closet
A brass lamp standing in the corner of the room, offering us a bit of light
A grey and white throw blanket flowing like fabric waves at the foot of the bed 
All the things we normally surrounded ourselves with in this intimate space, 
were now sold off, donated, or in a box.  

Only our physical selves remained there fully

That night, we cried together on the mattress on the floor, 
sharing a knowing look between us 
that recognized how far we’d come
out of those dark woods
when we were crawling on our hands and knees, 
scraping and clawing to find our way out

And so today I leave
Ahead of Emi, I’ll drive our car across the country with a friend, 
with our house plants in the back seat, 
and she’ll catch a flight in a couple weeks 
and meet me at our new apartment in Brooklyn
I’ll cover thousands of miles before I get there, 
giving me plenty of time to keep watching the home movies in my mind 
of all our time here, amazed at how 
a life is lived simply by being alive
It sounds basic, I know, but it feels profound to me right now

A life is simply lived by being alive

We moved here not knowing or anticipating what we were entering into, 
but slowly it turned into what will probably one of thee formative chapters of our life

I’ll miss the rising creek behind the house, and the moon window full of stars, 
and the river who has known me so well, and the cottonwoods
I’ll miss my studio with its bones and feathers, 
and walking barefoot in the morning under the spruce trees

I’ll miss handfulls of willow leaves
to chew on for their natural aspirin Salicin,
a medicine for heartache or for hurting bodies  
I’ll miss the mountains to the West, the prairie to the East, 
and our family and friends whom we love and need so much,
all woven together like that blanket tossed
over the foot of our bed.

Goodbye Greeley, city of a thousand selves 
who has known us through all this dark and light  
Thank you for teaching us patience
Thank you for teaching us persistence
Thank you for teaching us presence

Perhaps there is a God or Gods of many names that has lived with us here

God of Confusion, God of Pain, God of Disease
God of Waiting, God of Daydreaming, God of Flooded Creeks
God of Love, God of Friendship, God of Family
God of Rivers, God of Longing, God of Thresholds
God of Mattresses on the Floor, God of Cardboard Boxes, God of Leaving…

Perhaps there is a way to pray to you, or with you, or within you, or through you
as each of these experiences are lived out and you are made into something else
Perhaps you’ll follow us to New York or we’ll follow you
Perhaps you’re the same God I thought of as a child, or perhaps not
Perhaps our lives are void of spirit or Gods
Perhaps Mystery and Poetry is truly all we have
or Perhaps you’re in everything, everywhere, all the time

There’s no way to really know, but through all this Mystery and Poetry
and all that unknown that was everywhere, and is still everywhere,
I’m off to drive through wild places, headed for a crowded place

Towards a life we’ve never lived


When have you had to say goodbye to a house, place, person, or life chapter? I would love to hear your story about saying farewell. Please comment below or send me a message at

Following Water, The Start - CC Road Trip Day 1

Following Water, The Start - CC Road Trip Day 1

Lead Animals

Lead Animals