After Michael’s Death, A Letter to Noora
There is a cyclone fence between ourselves and the slaughter.
– Carolyn Forchè
Our trip to Oswiecim.
We did not think ahead. Each door framed to open. Each brick laid for shelter.
I followed Michael past a sign. Please be silent. You are in a room where thousands of people were killed.
Cigarette smoking. Breath heaving. Tears dripping from his chin. A camera masked his face. It clicked.
Our return to London.
Iraq invasion underway. Each thing we did, a thing we did while bombs began to fall. Each day we asked the question are we helpless or at fault?
He gave half measures of his life to each end of the argument. Became a doctor. Killed himself.
I am writing now to let you know.
Our last conversations.
When you left for Doha, you explained, there were shopping malls before the sanctions, in Baghdad like Piccadilly. Before the war, a chance of going home.
When Michael left for Zagreb, he took a laptop and a pair of socks. He smiled and shrugged, wanting even less. Even then, wanting nothing left.
Our futures apart.
Looking back fifteen years, our closeness is a fantasy. No contrast between the brightness of a moment lived and a story heard.
I am writing now of him to you with words that work like weather. They come from far away. They touch everything. They move on.
Gabriel Furshong writes from Helena, Montana. A correspondent at Montana Quarterly, his prose has appeared in The Nation, Yes! Magazine, High Country News, and other publications. His poetry has been published in the Cossack Review, Dialogist, Natural Bridge, Cutbank, and other journals. New fiction is forthcoming at Saranac Review.