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from the June 2015 issue

The Death of My Parents in the Village

The funeral meal—all of the relatives and neighbors have come.
I don’t know any of them.
The death of my parents in the village, it played out long ago in the future.
I cannot summon the memory. I cannot cry.
After a long and difficult illness, the death of their eight-hour workday
                                                                 occurred unsurprisingly, inconspicuously.
The news posted only on the community Facebook page:
The couple died, leaving behind “just three more years to retirement.”
Funeral paid for by the daughter, a lesbian.

In the last few years they maintained a Slovenian-made kitchen and a leather living-room suite,
                                                                                       but not contact.
They strung rosaries of their working years, they died of humiliation, over me.
Because I don’t have a steady job, a husband, and three kids—
the holy trinity, with no room for accommodations.

They built a big family house.
Not with heads, not with limbs, not with whole bodies, but with their own   t  e  n   fingers.
They built a house greater than their socialist dreams,
greater than brothers and sisters,
than comrades, drugovi i drugarice,
a house that will be the mausoleum of our re-jiggered lives.

The death of my parents in the village, it played out long ago in my childhood,
the entirety of which fit into the gift pack that came from Mother’s workplace on New Year’s.
Into the inflated foil pillow of large, sticky peanut puffs
and the bar of crispy rice chocolate.
The most delicious present of the nineties.

"Smrt roditelja na selu" © Dragoslava Barzut. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Paula Gordon. All rights reserved. 

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