Birthday Elegy

Birthday Elegy

(For the families of ET 302 victims)



& what poem shall we give
to comfort the girl by the windowsill
awaiting her father’s impossible return?


What poem shall reinstate the
tentative smile of a husband
that becomes his final?


When farewells acquire permanence,
poets must shut up
& commit to silence.


But silence is a treacherous thing,
don’t let words fail.
Silence is duplicitous & complicit,
Silence is too fatal an act
for a poet to commit.


A plane stumbled & fell at Bishoftu
on my 33rd birthday.
Bodies, blood and blurry memories
redacted the felicity of vain numbering
& here I lie, wounded by grief,
contemplating my humanity in silence.


Emmanuel says 33 is good age to go
or dare to dream.

I acquiesce,
but I ask if dying is for the dead
as it is for the living.

Then I dare to dream…