VERN FEIN – AUNT DeDe

AUNT DeDe

is dying to no one’s surprise.
88 and has been failing,
survived Parkinson’s for 15.
Meaningless numbers,
just like the spate of emails
and texts about her pending demise.
There will be no gathering
at her request.
Would be no gathering anyway.
Virtually everyone who would come
have had their own funerals
or live too far away.
The texts elicit tiny pebbles of sorrow,
barely a ripple in our ponds.

She had a vibrant life,
a noted audiologist,
world traveler with her doctor husband.
Then one daughter committed suicide,
another succumbed to a painful disease.
For that Aunt Dede is remembered.
Not her life—those deaths.
Oh, she was also afraid of cats.

Hibernating away at the edge of a Wisconsin burg,
she and her husband dealt in antiques
until they turned into them.
Today no one gave more than a sad
passing nod in their texts
to her going.

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EMILY STRAUSS – A GRAIN OF DUST LIKE A PROMISE

– a grain of dust like a promise

outside the barred windows
high up on the walls
light and life reigned
a dust mote blew free
in the sunshine
that couldn’t penetrate
the smoky interior

the cattle cars were cold
but somehow acceptable
at least they could smell
the abandoned stations
they passed always at night
in an unknown land

the train rattled on
doors kept locked
guards banging outside
a distant gunshot woke
the babies, whimpering

grains of dust from the straw
floated above them,
promises grew fainter
as the train pressed on
dust mixed with dry skin,
cotton threads, hair

there were no promises
as they arrived at the gates
the dust released when the guards
slid open the cattle chutes,
the families stumbled out
captives of the soot.

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