elegy for her by Theresa Senato Edwards

elegy for her

how is it we mourn for someone whom we didn’t know?
to see three photos and wish her eyes transform?

to think about gender and how it shifts in each camera shot
her profile: a boy in a dress
hair jagged, chin cut as if there’d been a brawl,
empty fight with men gone very wrong.

her portrait: young girl,
eyes bent with sadness
stress around nostrils,
anger carved silent like glass.

her look beneath kerchief when asked
to shift her head right: young woman.
how is it her features soften against the force of chair
when dark cloth swaddles her hope of flowers,
river mist, laughter?

how is it that five numbers are all we have to find only three photos?
a “Z,” Zigeuner (German for Gypsy), to create a category
in which they’ll haul her out,
bludgeon any smiles she might have saved for someone
worth loving?

from Autumn Sky Poetry 19, October 24, 2010 — by Theresa Senato Edwards. Painting by Lori Schreiner.

Photo by Wilhem Brasse used with permission from the archival collection of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim.

Around the First by Theresa Senato Edwards

Around the First

Attic room: unmade twin beds
old, dirty casement windows
needing curtains to hide
the way he broke inside her silence.

Old, dirty casement windows
cracked from the rain within:
the way he broke inside her silence.
Ceiling, pitched and peeling

cracked from the rain within,
low and suffocating.
Ceiling, pitched and peeling,
the smell of skin

low and suffocating
in thick teenage air.
The smell of skin
lit the lamp.

by Theresa Senato Edwards, first published in The Music of Hands.

Editor’s Note: The repetition in this poem mirrors the way trauma can often feel—as if there is no escape.