Vigil

Vigil

a few steps from my office
they hold a vigil; they
pass out candles. we try
to keep them lit though
the wind is gusting hard

they invite a Sri Lankan
student to read from
the Bible. I do not know
her; we do not have
a campus Sri Lankan
mailing list, a mistake
I am regretting fiercely

a prayer, a moment of
silence, and the wind
keeps up; we silently
re-light our candles, over
and over and over again

I scan the crowd for other
Sri Lankans — most here
are not, yet they have
come, have organized
this for us, to hold us up
when we are falling

afterwards, we find each
other — brown faces,
tilted heads — are you?
yes. yes, I am Sri Lankan
though I left long ago;
can I stand with you?

we do not speak
of bombings, we speak
of Sri Lankan New Year,
of Geetha’s in Evanston,
that carries our spices
our sambols and chutneys,
pickles and red rice

of summer plans to stay
or go home again; we’ll
find each other on Facebook
we do not ask who is
Sinhalese Tamil Buddhist
Christian Hindu Muslim
we do not ask

we light each other’s
candles over and over
as many times as
necessary

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