“Talitha cumi!”

by Don Narkevic

Only sound remains: weeping, 
flutes, footsteps, the rustle
of Aba’s cloak, his footsteps
storming out the front door,
the creak of the hinge 
the last I hear
the rattle of my breaths
as my ribs rise and fall
while I die. Ima groans
as though enduring childbirth
when the midwife delivers
news of the infant’s death.

Then the soundlessness of me, 
a twelve-year-old daughter,
heart arrested, a failed star
freefalling through the terror
of the night sky
until I am caught
in the calloused palm
of a fisherman, maybe a carpenter,
fingers combing through my hair,
the smell of dust and sweat
of someone journeyed,
the whiff and warmth of breath
against my ear as speech conceives:
“Talitha cumi!”

Inside me, something revives, 
like pomegranate trees in bloom,
and my eyes, flickering 
flames of pottery lamps, 
reveal the radiance 
of a stranger’s face, his eyes
closed as though blessing the Lord. 
Obedient to his command,
I rise from the mat.

As Ima and Aba hug me,  
the weary man insists on food,
maybe bread, figs, smoked fish,
for I am not a ghost,
my being still dependent
on that which sustains.

Don Narkevic: Buckhannon, WV. MFA National University. Current work appears in Literary YardAriel Chart, and The Lake. In Spring 2022, Main Street Rag will publish a novella of poetry entitled, After the Lynching.  

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