Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Elegy for Us Both
Ya sé que es tonto eso, que estás muerta
que más vale callar.
—J. Sabines

At the time of your second death, phones were still slow & dumb
like the tides. My Nokia had a fit on a towel that day at the beach

hours after they found your sand petrified. My father’s voice
always: She died. Long story. Get on a plane. I did.

(I cried.) Don’t laugh but the rabbi spoke as a young man of his
new bride. He neglected to mention you always said religion reeked

of pesticide. His mouth spat the camp you & your sisters
survived: Treblinka, Janowska, Gross-Rosen, Kaiserwald.

It’s all one. I wept when you died, but, forgive me, not
for your death, but for mine. We all get two deaths & I used

up my first one at tender twenty-five. People came to
me preoccupied: it must’ve seemed we’d been quite close.

(I lied.) We barely knew each other. You never knew anyone,
never married, tiny, bug-eyed. We’d only talk at the table

on high holidays, side by side. Oftentimes the subject was Fidel
Castro: I’d call him a murderer, you’d bite violent with

communist pride. It doesn’t matter anymore, nothing does,
yet we still try. You could never hold a job, too precious &

unqualified. I tell people I don’t like the beach, but never mention
you; it’s implied. I’m writing this in the dark, dear great-aunt,

& I’m not satisfied. Failure isn’t the waning of hope—I wish!—
it’s the murder of hope mid-stride. Hurt left your face

in my brain calcified. Would you tell me how
it happened? Is that you? What’s that? You’re outside?  

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