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Preface to Life

By Nathalie Handal

To Mohsen Emadi

There are voices that stop us
that open the ground and
fold our hearts into tiny squares
You tell me, Juan left us—
I need your embrace
I tell you, Amiri left us—
who’s the world now?
Our grief hanging on a telephone line
Mexico City—Vermont
our eyes fill with their eyes
we repeat Juan’s words:
There are losses.
The important thing is how returning to them
transforms them into something new.
Repeat Amiri’s—Things have come to that
We cry and read their poems
until their words tell us
there is song in our bodies
and the night will not end at the river
and the room will not drown us
and the door will not lock us in
and no one will see us on our knees
and they have not left us
They are in our collapsed hearts
like a bell with a twenty-volume love note
and as if their history were a sound that turned
eternity into an ever-widening world
we will all look at one another
and know what we are doing here

Farewell dear poets
Amiri Baraka, October 7, 1934–January 9, 2014
Juan Gelman, May 30, 1930–January 14, 2014


The last interview with Juan Gelman:

Published Jan 15, 2014   Copyright 2014 Nathalie Handal

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