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.