A Goodbye – Poem by Shelby Wilson

Still Shining

The pandemic has taken away many of our events, but it hasn’t taken away the care for those around us. Shelby Wilson, a teacher from Amarillo, TX has written some heartfelt words to the class of 2020. May it warm your heart as well as you read these tender words.

A Goodbye

-For the members of the class of 2020 . . . and their teachers.

Each May,
amidst the blooming and buzzing,
slow songs echo into temperate prom nights.

I experience a rare emotion,
a word often misappropriated in
my classroom—

These students, I know them for
their culmination—
a year of endings
and beginnings.
A year on the precipice,
when kindergarten memories
soothe their fears,
their hearts softened as the final
melody of youth fades out.

Atop the plateau, they
see the horizon,
a view of the rising sun over the
endless Texas plains.

A new song, imperceptible at first,
crescendoes into the mix.

The vastness of the landscape is electric,
making hairs stand on end
while their knees shake
to the backbeat.

They get one last dance,
I take a turn around the floor each year
to a different song—
and as each song ends,
I say goodbye.

Goodbye’s precursors feel familiar—
the caps and gowns,
the gold-embossed script of announcements
on my classroom bulletin boards,
one last test,
one last day.

An interrupted goodbye
is incomplete.
The song’s been cut off.

Bittersweet goodbyes are gifts.
What can I do when the song hasn’t finished?
I can still sing.


Shelby Wilson writes, teaches, and lives in Amarillo, Texas. He holds a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in English from West Texas A&M University. His work has appeared in Ink & Nebula, Sparks of Calliope, Backchannels, Celestal Review, Madness Muse Press, and elsewhere.

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