[38] Everyone I ever knew is dead, E. Martin Pedersen

Goddamn phone!

The Italian coast guard fished him out
a kid, lucky he could tread water
Syrian, I got asked to interpret
getting his name, age, and
who he knew
on the raft
or back home or in other
European countries

“Everyone I ever knew is dead,”
he said, with extinguished eyes
he said everyone
I let that sink in
before translating
aunts uncles cousins
father mother brother sister
all grandparents
all friends
neighbors who used to bicker
schoolmates, soccer team
the fruit vendor
the doctor
the Imam—
everyone
dead.

I am reminded of this today
living so far away now in Northern California
far from that lost Syrian kid
I never saw again
I am ashamed, so ashamed of my anger
because my old cellphone just died
I lost all my numbers
No backup, no cloud—all gone
I can call no one for help
messages sent and received—gone
Mom’s funeral
Dad in the old-folks home
Uncle Vik falling from a ladder
all people signals lost
Love boredom death
who are these
names, contact info
dead
every one.

Right now, I do not want to go out (or stay in)
move, act, work
I cannot relate to anyone today
I’m too ashamed for my loss—
this is not real tragedy,
it just feels
so all gone.

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