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Sunday, October 13, 2013


by Lois Elaine Heckman

“The Italian authorities have so far retrieved 301 bodies from the smugglers’ boat, which caught fire and sank just a quarter-mile off the island. Of the estimated 500 people on board, only 155 survived.” --Gaia Pianigiani, New York Times, October 9, 2013

No, they are not
the undertaker’s casket samples
laid out in rows for choosing.
They are all filled with loss:
a mother and child
still connected by their cord,
a boy proudly wearing
the Italian soccer team’s t-shirt.
They hold people
who desired, searched, struggled
for a better life in another world
and found it in a different place
than they imagined.
There are more stories still
in the cemetery below,
covered by salt water,
like our faces.

Lois Elaine Heckman is from Los Angeles and now lives in Milan, Italy. She has had works published in Tilt-a-Whirl, Lighten Up Online, Prole, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Persimmon Tree, and others. She won the 2010 New England Shakespeare Festival Rubber Ducky Sonnet Contest and placed in the Poetry on the Lake Competition in 2012 and 2013, and the Hungry Hill Poetry Prize in 2012. Her chapbook, Out of Nowhere (White Violet Press), was published by Kelsay Books in 2013.