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Category: John A. Nieves

Elegy with the Elegy Missing

It’s a thing learned with fanfare, but more

often in silence. Sometimes appearing

is such hard work. Sometimes the will isn’t

there. Louis couldn’t muster it to disembark

a train in Paris. Glenn would not make it across

the channel to the same spot. Maybe the city

of lights made the brightness of being too

daunting, too impossible to close one’s eyes

and wish away. On a walk in southern

Vermont, Paula passed on the idea of anyone’s

gaze tracing her lips or cheeks or hips. And

the telegraph wires and the telephone lines

and the newsreels and papers did the best

they could to bring them back. Photographs

pled with the public to accept them as evidence,

to believe them to be the bloody sock, or shard

of bone, or clump of hair on a rocky jag. There

were recordings of the sounds they made

or recountings of the steps, the miles. Everyday

the vanishing grew and filled the mouths

of all who witnessed the new emptiness. But around

the corner, not far from the tracks, or in that alley

on which the sun always sets first, people disappear

more completely. Every inch of them rolls into shadow

until only hands, for a second, remain—one holding

the voice, the other gripping the name. And the world

wakes up short a ghost story someone somewhere desperately wanted

to tell.

from Poetry Northwest 12.1 Summer & Fall 2017More by John A. Nieves from the library

Copyright © John A. Nieves
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.