after Lawrence Langer
When the woman facing the video camera speaks
decades after having been freed
from whichever death camp she’d been dumped in
about how life is for her now,
it’s clear she was never freed, not really,
two rivers running through her,
one roaring, drowning out the other
which nevertheless keeps going
societal norms, those
thinking of others, the future of the state.
But the louder river’s stronger. It erodes its bed,
pulls like a muscled eel against the line
because she couldn’t turn her back on what she’d had to do to
not die, the slightest seam left in the water
for so short a time!—like a breath.
Me? I’d have sunk
so readily into the murk
as into one who’d have killed me for a dime. And I did
everything for nothing.
Why can’t I say
what it hurts to know about the self?
—while she can’t not
say it, staring straight into the eye of the lens:
“Love leaves me cold.”
Copyright © Elizabeth Arnold
Used with the permission of Flood Editions.