for Yamin Georgian

It was the title of the email we received:
Notification of Student Death
as though it were as innocent
and simple as a notification
of overdue fines at the library.

She was found in the perfect
dome of her car--a Toyota, perhaps,
or a Ford--doubtless some safe,
wide vehicle, and practicle. It was

pulled over onto the shoulder
of the road (a curvy black thing
nestled between the sleeping breasts
of two far-off mountains).

There was no car accident, no
mangled hood or popped tires, no
twisted metal, no smell of burning. Just


curled up in the front
seat as though for a nap.
Whispers circulated the campus

suicide, we breathed.

Back on campus, we pack our grief
into small boats and send them
toward the open sea
in so many fleets. I count them
vigil, casket viewing,
funeral service, reception.

For those of us who never knew her,
this is all there will be. Perhaps
the cotton sails of several boats
will linger on the horizon for a year
or two--
perhaps not. Such great sorrow

has never been
so brief.


She twists vine-like around her own torso
and sweeps from the great ballrooms.
Her feet on the stairs are like ribbons un-
raveling. Nobody has ever danced
down stairs before. Death

is a woman dancing. And when she reaches the shadows
where men lay sprawled waiting and they are always waiting
she pauses: movement arrested at a rest in the music. And
she slides forward on her belly,
still dancingÉ

Death is a woman dancing:
on the concrete; between slabs of stone
and wide, double arches; below a swinging lamp
in a darkness that is quietly alive; toward
a courtyard filled with the night.

Death is a woman dancing:
in the inky shade of a tree; across leaves
and grass; brushing her toes in a bright dew
as she pirouettes toward

Death is a woman dancing:
in a wide curve; among narrow sweeps of melting snow;
amidst spiky brush and the orbs of lamplight;
quietly leaping behind the bench where
nobody sits.

Death is a woman dancing.

She flings open the doors that lead to mysterious
passageways and gracefully thrusts herself
forwardöspinning, kicking, waving, nodding,

and coiled under her fingers is your hand
as you dance along with her in the shadows.


My mother's grandmother knew about love,
its fire-like properties: the orange blaze,
and the way it feeds on itself
that there is always an infinite flame.

She had six children and nineteen grandchildren,
and she knew about fire love,
knew that nineteen candles burn more brightly
than one, or six, or eighteen. My great-grandmother
was experienced in the ways of bonfires,
the strong, ashy hearts of love and how to make them

throb and grow. She died, years before my birth,
her fingers brittle and thin, like matchsticks.

I flicker with ache, but there is a particular pain
for things we have not known, a drought...
dry eyes, the danger of wild fires. Crying

is reserved for those who blazed in her presence.


In my life, I am a street performer
straddling the sidewalks of Spain and juggling fruit
the way a man once juggled fruit in a film.

I have been thrown one good thing after another,
and I stand juggling blessings too numerous to hoard--
Melons, apples, mangos, and pungent oranges from the sky.

How lucky am I, that I may lean against a cool building
in the heat of August, pluck the sun from its blue nest,
and devour the sweet sections of this gift

          © Mariel Boyarsky 2006