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Callaloo 25.2 (2002) 360-361

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The Blind Girls
(Elio's Story)

Cyrus Cassells

Then six little weeping girls
entered the cafe,
pell-mell, confounded,
bumping into chairs,
and oh I realized
they were all blind.
A broken bracelet
of blind girls.
From the orphanage,
someone whispered.
Whip-thin, famished,
tethered together
with fraying rope,
groping, tantalized
by the sound of cutlery,
the smell of bread.
in strict, hideous uniforms,
hair short, severe,
like convicts.
And in a clap, a heartbeat,
they were led away—
Sentenced to cavalier
war and darkness,
did they ever recover
from their staggering hunger?
Will I ever recover
from the memory of it?
In harrowing war,
that was the inglorious sight
that snapped me
like a Dresden shepherd.
And I, old veteran [End Page 360]
who has had only sons,
have thought of the unsettling girls
in the decades since
as my secret daughters,
spare and sunless,
and all I have wished for them
is an Everest of bread.


Cyrus Cassells is author of four volumes of poems, the most recent being Beautiful Signor. For his poetry he has received a number of awards, including a Lannan Literary Award, Lambda Literary Award, and the Callaloo Creative Writing Award. He is an associate professor of English at Southwest Texas State University and lives in Austin.



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