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Reunion: J-School, Class of 19--

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Cutlery clatters into the sink.
But always the characters, uniquely themselves,
only some decades older. They search
for their coats. You were, she reminds him,
our resident nomad, come to pitch your tent
here, sidewalks for sand, unaccustomed taboos:
Morningside Heights, one of your lives.
                                        Thirty years
since the awkward goodbye? Before he goes—
East Africa his beat, Germany hers—he’ll
visit the nephew, the namesake in Boston
who drives a cab, sends a pittance each month
to a wellhead in—we’ll call it Sudan.
He explains how it works, this drip feed
of cash to Sudan from the United States:
cheap, fast. She’s not clear about this—he jots
her a website: it’s a place she can go.
So they won’t meet again...suddenly
Can you forgive me? he blurts—
a classmate’s apartment, Upper West Side,
the grown child’s room, bears
in tidy shrines, scrum of sloughed coats.
In the kitchen friends wash up. Sound
of laughter. Sound of water flowing
out of a tap. Yes, she replies, shocked
by the twinge, then ache, of remorse.
She “forgot”? And him—thirty years—
the place still hurts? It’s myself I can’t forgive,
she knows later. Right now, vague shame.
End of March. Maybe April. Street trees
are trying to bloom. The irretrievable
sits on the table, white as a plate. He holds her
her coat.

Source: Poetry (April 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Reunion: J-School, Class of 19--

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  • Poet and translator Beverley Bie Brahic was born in Canada and now lives in Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poetry collection White Sheets (CB editions, 2012) was a finalist for the Forward Prize. Her work has appeared in Field, Literary Imagination, Notre Dame Review, the Southern Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere.

    Beverley Bie Brahic’s translations include Guillaume Apollinaire: The Little Auto (CB editions, 2012); Francis Ponge: Unfinished Ode to Mud (CB editions, 2009), a finalist for the Popescu Prize for Poetry in Translation; Julia Kristeva: This Incredible Need to Believe (Columbia University Press, 2009), a finalist for the French American Foundation Translation Prize; Jacques Derrida’s Geneses, Genealogies, Genres, and Genius (Columbia UP, 2006); and several works of Hélène Cixous, including Twists and Turns in the Heart’s Antarctic (Polity, 2011), Hyperdream (Polity, 2009), and Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint (Columbia UP, 2005).

    Brahic has been awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Writing Grant.
     

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