There weren’t any virgins.

Not 72, not even one, but

I clearly saw them:

angelic telephone operators

at an old-fashioned switchboard,

sitting in neat rows

far enough from one another

so their wings didn’t tangle.


Through the buzz and celestial

interference they strained to hear

the earthly pleas, but maybe,

maybe, I thought, they’d hear mine.


‘Just let him open his eyes’

At first I whispered shyly,

didn’t want to overwhelm

them with my greed.

Didn’t want to say plain and

simple: I want him back

whole, the way he was,

seeing as they already granted

him life. Then I got bolder,

more urgent.


I shouted, then screamed

but they still refused to hear.

Just kept fussing with all those

cords, keys and jacks,

as if they really meant

to be helpful.

Erythra Thalassa by Annette Libeskind Berkovits

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