by gm

Ayelet Tsabari


I should have told you in that synagogue
in Montreal during our brother’s wedding
to a girl from Hampstead.
Our entire family had flown over
from Israel, unabashed and un-Canadian,
me from Vancouver; you, from your
once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trip to India.

While the rabbi spoke of faith and matrimony
one of our sisters-in-law leaned
over and whispered, jerking her chin
toward you in the other row: Her ex-boyfriend.
A motorcycle accident. But don’t tell her.
She’s travelling. She’s having fun.
Don’t tell her. And so, oddly obedient, I didn’t.

I didn’t at the reception, you: luminous
in your green dress, bought in a market
in Jaipur, sparkling silk speckled
with mirrors like a Bollywood disco ball.
I didn’t in my Vancouver basement
apartment, where you came to stay,
backpack and all, woke up one morning

from the bed we shared and said, “I dreamt
about him. He lived on Dead Street.
What does it mean?” And still I didn’t
on Wreck Beach our skin sand-studded
and sprinkled with salt our black hair blazing
tar and strung with gold, and when we swam
naked, gasping and squealing,

our Mediterranean bodies stunned then stung
by the Pacific waters. I didn’t when you broke
your toe from dancing barefoot on the sand,
or when you weaved funny plotlines for patients
at the ER, elaborate love triangles for the doctors
and staff, and we were stupid stoned—for the pain!
I almost told you many times, but didn’t;

because our father died when you were 17,
because two years later your first love
shot himself with an Uzi, and because we were
having the sunshiny, shimmery summer
of our dreams. “I just found out my ex died,”
you wrote in an email from India.
You flew back there at the end of summer,

leaving me alone in my subterranean suite,
with cool tiles that stabbed my feet,
and slivers of grey, mucky skies wedged
in small windows. And then, a moment
later: “I’m so stupid.
………………………..You must have known
all this time.” My heart dropped like an elevator

with a snapped rope, and I wished
for the weeks to unfurl backwards,
for time to unfold back upon itself,
for my words to unlodge themselves
from my throat, unsilenced,
the way as a child I pled with our father
…………………………………… undie.