Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan

Issue #
April 26, 2020

Demise of a Star

I knew a girl once I knew a girl once      who glided into a black hole         and as posited by Albert Einstein
slid beyond the event horizon         the place of no return              space-time collapsing

and that young girl from Latvia         evanesced         the matter that she was         too much matter
for the small space         that she occupied              just a young girl from Latvia         her family’s tree of life

budding over America         flowering immigrant dreams         in a sometimes-inhospitable land
a land in which even         being blond and blue-eyed and smart          could not save you from

derision if you lived         on the wrong side of the river         and our parents         not wanting to talk about it
lectured us about the wrong thing         lectured us about staying away         from the frozen edges

the Merrimack River         rushing through the center         of our once-industrial town      
powering the mills         in which all new immigrants         had been pressed into piecework

the city’s more established haves         settling on one riverside         new have-nots         on the other  
this Latvian family with means         mistakenly choosing          the wrong side         as if any parents’

words or choices         could keep any of us safe         as if black holes          were a thing outside of us
instead of the beast within         our fourteen-year-old selves          tortured monstrously

by otherness            she had a deaf twin         this young Latvian girl         a sister we did not know
because in the mid-century         there was no place          in neighborhood schools         for those who were

different and so Daryl would          footslog along the river         wind rattling the birches          each day leaving
half of herself behind         to sit in the row of wooden desks         with a group of bullying strangers

the most slippery moment arriving          with the Iowa Test           she scored highest in the grade    
which spotlighted her         gave her the gift of more         ridicule and rejection         and so

is it any wonder that she          chose the black hole         the ice snapping          under her feet
the wind scraping          her face              but I did wonder         for decades         she being the first

I knew to choose         that black oblivion              tumbling            from my own pedestal         I considered
my part in her choice         had I been kind enough         or kind at all         could it have ended differently

how had we all missed         those storm clouds gathering         the cumulative force of gravity  
overwhelming         a place of eternal entanglement         from which not even light could escape    

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