What the exiled man never says
because he is a rational man,
a man of moderation, someone whose
manners are civilized, even suave,

is that there are moments
when he doesn’t believe
in the catastrophe that destroyed
his native city, where he was young,

the place where he was a child,
where he discovered the world
and found it good as it found him good,
the place where he first loved…

It is whole, alive and well,
as in a smiling trance, he walks
along the avenue to the square,
enjoys a young woman’s beauty

It strikes even him as absurd
that he doesn’t believe, because
he was there, because he saw the fire
and tasted the ash, saw dead bodies

lying on their backs, like mice
that had encountered small misfortunes,
(there was one very tall man who
appeared to be doing the backstroke,

but was frozen in mid-stroke),
because he had seen his own house
destroyed by a bomb and burning,
because he had escaped by accident

scrambling across the border
in a misty morning to be born
as another person into a new life
and most absurd of all is that

he can remember and also not
believe at the same time, so that ease
and unease make an uncanny blend,
so that he feels at home and not there.

No point ever in saying anything
about this, even just after sex,
because if you didn’t know it,
then you couldn’t know it, shouldn’t

So where he was most intimate
with himself he was most alone
and when his little daughter would ask
what he was thinking – “Nothing”.

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