Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sharon Olinka: The Cutting

Hosep, I've made cuts on my arms with a razor blade.
Little ones at first. Then deeper cuts.
Once I opened a vein.
I started on my breasts,
when the attendant caught me. One of my nipples
will never be the same.
The last look we shared, on the dock,
is all I have. I was on the ship.
You got farther away. You had hazel eyes.
I wonder if the soldiers
cut out your eyes first. You were like a doll
among the crowd of men on the dock
as the ship lurched, and I tried
to see your face. But I saw
malachite-colored water, the corpse
of a dog, a broken gilded clock,
and a woman with no face
all float together. The loud boom
of collapsing buildings made me
shake, then twitch. I saw
the Sporting Club on the quay
fall, the Theatre de Smyrne,
the Oriental Carpet Institute.
I saw sailors push people away
with a whip. One sailor
filmed it, like a home movie.
This is insane, I thought...the English
are our friends, the Americans,
Italians, French...aren't they?
The American ship took me
because the captain knew of my father.
Sailors, though, looked at me
like we were not of the same race.
Freckles, of them
shrugged. "It has nothing to do with us."
Then he snorted, "Levantines!"
Our city was killed.
They said the Titanic was important,
but I think we are more important.
Do you know, Hosep,
I'm the only one of my family
to survive Smyrna?
I am your Sirarpi,
and I will love you forever.
Our baby girl died at three months.
I'm seventeen years old now.
I want to join you soon.

Copyright 2000 Sharon Olinka

From The Good City, published by Marsh Hawk Press, 2006. Used here by kind permission of the author.

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