December 1, 2010

Irena Pasvinter

Bigger than Life

How many years have we been doing this already?
It must be the fourth. Four years since you are not here.
Once a year we get together to drive to the cemetery -
Your wife, your grandson and we family friends.
The sun is ruthless, the air is melting with heat,
June in the Promised Land is always the same.
Your grave is in the front row in the corner,
With Russian-like surname in black Hebrew letters.

We place our bouquets on a gravestone in a colorful heap
And wait for your wife to release her grip on the stone.
We don't pray and don't say Kaddish - we never prayed,
So why should we start today? It would be insincere.
She says we can leave now, everyone picks a small stone
To put on the grave. The sun burns us farewell, it has no mercy.

We drive back to your wife's tiny place and have a feast.
She puts a glass for you on the table, with Cognac,
Covered by a small slice of black bread.
We drink to your memory a couple of times,
Then for everybody's well being.
One would expect us to talk about you, but we don't.
We talk about everything else, mostly.
I know why I only let small short memories out.
If I will start talking honestly I will cry,
I will be a mess, that's for sure.

I think I was ten when I first saw your smile,
First stared open-eyed while you told your stories,
First fell in silent love with you forever.
You are still bigger than life, thirty years later.


Irena Pasvinter earns a living by software engineering and happiness by writing. Several of her poems have appeared in different corners of the Internet.

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