Essays in the Age of Corona. Poems for Our Dead



N I N A    S Z A R K A

Poem for our Dead


I am holding my death toll
in my hands like a
small harp
There are strings for weeping,

and a melody that
is Not Allowed,
but I
cannot say the names
yet. I cannot lose them in a sea
so I just

Besides everybody

is counting their dead,all around me, like
plucking the petals off daisies
like we used to do as kids
to see if somebody loved us;
Over and over I say to my friends,
I love you I love you I love you, I am
an echo.
When I was younger I thought

there were words for everything.

I know differently, now.
It would be a waste to comfort me.

When I was little, a tornado tore the roof off

my neighbor’s house and I remember
thinking about
Who Will Clean All That Up,
and it turned out it was
the neighbors. All of us. Me, holding debris

in my little arms, carrying it
to the pile that was bigger than me,
a pile of Things That Used To Be A House

I stopped crying, weeks ago, I think.
Now, I just hold my breath.
I am so lonely, and it is the loneliness of

Not Knowing.

If it is ever me, I want you to do something:
If it is ever me, I want you to
tell the truth about me, the whole of it,
how insufferable and spill-able and

flawed I was.
If it is ever me, I want you to
burn my gold hoops
with my body.

It won’t be. I love you.












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