Cenotaph

For Carmen and Jessi, whose deaths we mourned on Facebook

You disappear like text across a screen—
blur of fingers tapping backspace
makes you not, never were.
I am, we are
bereft
so come compelled in pale procession,
like pilgrims to a shrine
on which some hand has scribed

      still you live

      still you go

      still you like

and begs us write

                              something.

Beloved friend
you are everywhere here,
but nowhere.
Banshee silence, body of text, name in a book.
How to grieve?
Some, expecting still the stone to roll away,

feast on words made insufficient flesh&ndsh;
      thimble of juice, wafer thin and broken—
and wait for you to rise.
Others carry gifts,

pictures, story, song,

hieroglyphic scrawl, funerary ritual
old as grief.
I, too, bear an offering,
small token for your journey,
engrave your wall with spell of words,

and pray you passage safe.

 

Elizabeth Johnston’s poetry has appeared in a variety of print and online journals and edited collections, most recently in New Verse News, Mom Egg Review, NonBinary Review, The Luminary, and Rose Red Review. New poems written by Elizabeth will be featured in forthcoming issues of NonBinary Review, Cahoodaloodaling, and in the print anthology, Veils, Halos, and Shackles: An Anthology of International Poetry (Eds. Charles Fishman and Smita Sahay). She is a founding member of the Rochester-based writer’s group, Straw Mat and facilitates writing workshops at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. She lives in North Chili, on the west side of Rochester, with her partner, Brian, two daughters, Ava and Christina, and a menagerie of animals. More information about Elizabeth can be found at her website: http://strawmatwriters.weebly.com/elizabeth-johnston.html.

 

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