Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Only We Shed Tears

Not the dog whimpering
on the street corner,
not even the chimpanzee.
Only our eyes brim over
from what is further than words
and closer to
the pig’s muddy hoof, the dark
of a lion’s mouth.
Our tears, salty like
the sea of our beginnings –
no wonder the haunting
vastness we feel in
deep sadness or joy,
as though
there were no walls in the room,
no quiet lamp in the corner.
I remember as kids
what we asked each other,
after the doctor’s office
or a scrape on the knee, was
“Did you cry?”
Less the question, more
the movement of our tongues
licking the invisible
wound we were
each born with –
I think we asked, hoping
for signs that it would stop
splitting open so easily,
and finally begin to heal.
The only time I saw my father cry
was when JFK was shot:
there he sat on the leather couch
flickering in the television’s
grayish light,
not looking at any of us
as we took turns
creeping into the room to see,
if only at a distance,
something open
inside him.


Sally Bliumis-Dunn