by David Handsher

Falling into a hole, she thought
of all the things she had not done.
Learn Arabic. Communicate with dolphins.
Buy low and sell high. Leave before
she was left. Halfway down she realized
how unimportant it all was. She
thought of her father, a big man
with a thin mustache, with ambitions,
a salesman, a flatter, a derelict.
She saw her mother’s mouth, bleach
blonde hair and the “don’t worry about me”
lie around her trembling lips.
There were lines of ancestors
in wool coats and Polish hats, escaping,
always escaping—and shoes of  unborn
children scattered on a wooden floor 
waiting for a time that would not come.
Near the bottom she heard the music,
the songs of waves waiting their turn
to crash the shore, the sounds of rocks
sizzling into a river of flame and finally
she saw a face, with closed eyes, calm,
welcoming, accepting it all, a Buddha.
She was happy. It was her face
before the pain of landing.

Originally published in Barrow Street (December 2015).