Jane Pek


Hearing the news third-hand,

the intimacy of words turned vulgar
in my mouth when I tried to repeat
them. We were crafted of stone
as we pulled sounds from the air in
acknowledgment, magician-like,
secure in the fact that the loss was not ours.

He sounded so solemn before he
told me. Were the questions of fate,
of cause and effect, of how and why
and where, of sundry existence--
were they all rioting in his head, too,
distilling appropriate concern
into the cold vapor of curiosity?

We marched through the car wreck
this time, heads held high while
eyes sifted for signs of disaster.
No longer crammed in the backseat,
noses pressed to the smell of dirty glass;
eager to catch the frailty of it all
as we crawled past on the expressway.

We know her, you see. That left us
sitting, too aware of our breathing
that packed in the strangeness; struggling
for another phrase of grief to string,
a form of sympathy to proffer unpolished
by the insincerity of the masses.

I wish I knew how you felt
that I might console you.


The 2River View, 4.2 (Winter 2000)