we might all enjoy an accidental rendezvous, a chance encounter that adds to our day, and so, with that in mind, here is a poem by Aracelis Girmay, from her collection Kingdom Animalia:
Because she has a name
in the book of my family, the book
of my father’s brain & chest,
because everyone who looks
at the old photograph of the birdish
& beautiful child always says
the same thing: Zewdit.
I believe I have an aunt named Zewdit
whose face I’ve never seen
without the translation of the camera’s
machine, because she is not here,
not any of the people who walk
through the house. Small, like the skeleton
of the sparrow, my father’s voice
saying she was gone. Because
I have never met her in our family’s houses,
because I never met her on a train or at the hotel
in Frankfurt, on a layover, she was not one of the women there
who looked up from folding the hot blankets
& mopping the floor to kiss my cheeks & kiss
my cheeks when I said Yes! Adis Ogdo.
Because she was not one of them who took me
for tea & accompanied me to the airport the next day
when I said the name of my grandfather’s town
though we were thousands of miles away, because
there are no new letters marked with international stamps now.
I believe that she was here once, & has gone–Everything
is the absence of her: if she stands, this morning, with the deer outside
the window of this house I borrow, if she stands with the deer,
right now, this cold & April morning, all I see are the deer.
If she laughs with the laughter of crows & other birds
in the morning, all I hear are the crows & other birds.
This world, uninterrupted by her body & her skin, as if,
like in the story of cats, she has brought the great bird of the day to my door,
the day, large & great, in her invisible mouth. As if
this world without her face is the only sentence, She has gone.