I recite in the dark
Ya’aburnee, Arabic for you bury me
Fernweh, German for a longing to be away
Hyggelig, Danish for a night with cold beer
and friends before a warm fire
or L’appel du vide, French for the urge to jump
from high places. The words lulled me until
I stopped on Razbliuto, Russian for the feelings
you have for someone you once loved
but now do not. After settling the baby
who woke wet with a fever, I return

to the list of words designed to inspire
the poet who is still asleep in me
as dawn approaches. I write Razbliuto down
in looping, exaggerated cursive, then watch
out the window as a blue jay thieves a branch
from another nest. A black hole, the word
collapses lovers and friends
into smaller and smaller elements –

a rock from a hike, a cinnamon scent,
a letter written by a hand I once drew
stars into, then wept into even
as I forgot the texture of those fingers
on my tongue. I look the word up
only to find it doesn’t exist, just
the root word, razliubit, to stop
loving, recorded in a long list
of urban legends like the German
Scheissenbedauern, the disappointment felt
when something turns out not nearly
as badly as one expected.

And what did I expect? The girl
who convinced her sister gnomes would visit
if she left offerings of money and chocolate
on a stump – the girl, now a mother,
who lets the baby cry a little longer
so she can corner a few bulky words, drag them
up by the ankles, and shake their pockets clean.

About Darlene Pagán

Darlene Pagán is the author of Blue Ghosts (2011) and Setting the Fires (2015). She has published essays and poems in journals such as Literal Latté, Field Magazine, CALYX, and Hiram Poetry Review. She teaches writing and literature at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and is currently working on a memoir titled The Safest Place to Fall, a middle-grade fantasy, and always, poetry. For more, visit darlenepagan.com.

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