PRIVATE Writers

Ana Elsner | Forgetting Eyes

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – 2015 Yusef Hawkin’s face is gone and now this child’s face has also been totally erased from the world. I believe her name was Janelle Lynn McCleese, born in 1987 and died in 1990. How did she die? I have imagined that she was hit by a car. The mural lived much longer than she did. Perhaps brevity really is part of the beauty and function of these murals—that their eventual loss further reflects the neighborhood’s demographic changes, the passage of time, the brevity of life. I won’t ever forget Janelle’s face and her lovingly fixed hair. She lives inside all of us who passed by and took notice of her as we walked down Lewis Ave.,-- us, the lucky living, wondrously and briefly animated by life.
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PRIVATE 40, p. 76-77, photo Michael Ackerman, text Ana Elsner
PRIVATE 40, p. 76-77, photo Michael Ackerman, text Ana Elsner

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by Ana Elsner

Not in a tinplated
beggar’s cup of watery soup
do I perceive your countenance.

Not in a fine white china
dish of consommé
is your delicate effervescent face appeared.

Not in a dirty puddle
on the oil-slicked tarmac
resides the fine-boned hologram of you.

Not in the basin of holy water
that is just on the inside of the chapel doors
does your perfect reflection live?
…not in the windows of a passing train,
…or on the shiny propeller blades of a plane,
…nor in a sheet of rain,
…nor in the bright, reflective pane
of plate-glass disillusionment and sly disdain.

I do so try to re-envision you,
but must explain,
that all attempts
at rehabilitation
of my Forgetting Eyes
have so-far
been
in vain.

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