sad voice without a source
a light, intense and abrupt,
without an explanation
makes the woman close the book
she had been reading
because sleep had again been elusive.
Yesterday, not today,
was the anniversary of her husband’s death
she thinks, then whispers,
as if that is the source and the explanation
her husband, a day and a year gone,
who had not wanted a funeral
firm in his desire to be cremated
and his ashes spread in the wind.
I want not a trace of me
except in your memory,
he had said, her ear close to his lips,
his words a heartbeat from incomprehension
his body’s betrayal sinister and complete.
But she goes to the urn and opens it
to see if he is still there
hoping the sad voice and the intense light
are not angry with her.
(“Visitation” was first published in Forge)
Canadian poet, fiction writer, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published nineteen books, including Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2014), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2015), An Unauthorized Biography of Being (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2016), Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be (Poetry, Guernica Editions, 2017), and A Visit to the Kafka Café (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2018). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies internationally, and over fifty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.