At a cafe off Thurman I think about Hannah, her body along
the tracks, her head below in the dirt bank because it had rolled
like a yoyo come loose from its string.
I remember the day. We heard through the grapevine,
you and I. Neither of us knew what to say. I could tell
you were thinking deeply, likely about her family,
but all I could think about was her long blonde hair,
straight like an arrow, golden like the yolk of an egg.
And then I thought of the officers, all four of them, who had to peel
her neck up from the railroad, and how they said there was hardly
any mess (just a clean sweep, a clean cut) and how somehow I knew
it must have been harder for them to see. As if a big mess left
equals a better life. As if more to clean is more to miss.
Hannah, you are somewhere now. Tucked around the landscape
like a fitted sheet around a bed. I haven’t seen your brother since
the service, since my tongue felt fat inside my mouth,
since I couldn’t say anything except about your hair.
How it must have felt to stroke it. How I want to stroke it now.
How I should have stroked it then.
I see you in the passersby: the men in their work boots kicking up dust,
the women in their sneakers kicking up nothing but air. I see you
in my coffee cup, in the dark liquid inside the round rim.
It looks just like your mouth must have looked
when you heard the train’s magic whistle.
Whether in a scream or a song, I will never know.
Author’s Commentary: I wrote "In Light of All The Suicides" after a long string of celebrity suicides were published in the news. Hannah's funeral was the first funeral I attended for someone who took their own life. I remember that summer so vividly. I hope her family has found peace.
Crystal Ignatowski's poetry has been featured in Bullets Into Bells, honey and lime, Flypaper Magazine, and more. She lives and writes in Oregon.