You can’t bring back the dead, but you can live with them inside your feet and your hands, guiding your cooking, your dreaming, your words. Singing melodies of comfort, so sweetly.
You can say their names out loud. Name your children after them, make movies about them and wear their socks or pajamas. Or a necklace made of jade, that they on a trip to Japan.
You can’t bring back the dead, but you can ponder your regrets, write them "I’m sorry" letters, pray for forgiveness, and know that you might be one of those people who waited too long. Just maybe.
You can put together intricate photo collages of them in all their ages and glory, when they were sleeping, when they were posing, hoping to smell them again, or sit in their lap.
You can see them suddenly walking down the street, same gait, same clothes, same bad haircut.
You can hear their voice calling to someone.
You can’t bring back the dead, but you can look into the eyes of your mentor and know that your dead sister is looking back at you through her eyes, saying, “Yes, it’s me. You get another chance. Don’t be afraid.”
You can eat that chopped liver as if mom is in the room saying, “Have some more, it’s delicious.”
You can tend to your plants as if her arms are your arms and your intuition is really hers.
You can’t bring them back, but you can learn their Torah, passed down from generation to generation.
You can’t bring back the dead, but you can mourn their deaths at the hands of the State. Cry out until someone listens, or just keeping crying out.
You can write their names on your sidewalks, in the synagogue, in your poetry. Never forget those who died during the great pandemic, or at the hands of white supremacist violence.
Why has the press stopped telling stories about those who died and are still dying?
You can’t bring them back but you can remember their lives. Each individual life.
You can’t bring them back but you can know that you will join them someday and others will not be able to bring you back, no matter how much they howl, or plead, or bargain.
You can’t bring me back when I am called to the other side, but maybe someone will write a poem in my memory.
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