Vol. 42, No. 8
by Hannah Bardhi
I wanted to bring the paper to breakfast. A National Enquirer from 1967.
I had a feeling it still had news to give.
Its age was apparent: cop’s coffee spiked with LSD,
and a number for drastic weight loss NOW.
A headshot of an actor in blackface.
(No diets, no starvation.)
I am stuck on a murdered girl, two
generous, inky images of the 21-year-old
beauty, brutally murdered
by bayonet. She is beautiful
because the headline tells me so, because the wrapped text suffocates
the blank space typically reserved
for questions, leaving me breathless
and believing in printed violence.
Hot sauce furious on my tongue, I guess the way to live forever
is to remain smiling, flat and palatable
against oxidized infinity. Perfect victimhood
like poetry, never asking to be remembered, simply fizzling out
with a knowing wink. This is the blank space we fill, drinking
Coke in quiet diners until someone is forced
to find a quarter about it.
The space I find myself
calculating the 55 years between us
and her eyes—fixed and memorialized
beneath my sweating glass.
I wanted to ask you what color you thought they were.
I wanted to bring the paper to breakfast so we could see
what fun used to mean. A pure wondering, wandering
into the answers we were taught before we could read:
her eyes were blue, they lit up rooms, and she was beautiful.