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EGYPTIAN TEARS

I read once that Egyptians

Caught tears in bottles

During loved ones’ funerals.

One would lay out each bottle

On the mantel piece

For all to see.

Each with a label

Etched the name of the departed

For all to behold.


I thought this quite

Thoughtful at the time;

Quite sentimental,

Quite beautiful.

I did not want to know

Whose tears those were,

Behind the frosted glass,

But who they were cried for.


Since,

I have discovered

Those little bottles are

Tear catchers.

Catch means to take.

So, those little vials

Seize an emotion,

A moment,

In time.

Little inanimate objects

Steal something so

Raw, so human,

Into lifeless containers

For strangers

To gawk at

Years to come.


Catch also means to

Lie in wait.

We wait as the tears

Bubble up

Ready to pop

Out of the corners of our sockets.

We wait for the trickle,

The cold, heavy, lump

That drags itself

Down the cheek

Awaiting the tongue

To tug it

Into the lips

For a salty

Notification of sadness.


‘Yes, that’s right’,

The brain says to itself,

‘I am sad’,

It finally knows

That these emotions are true

Because the internal

Has been extricated.


But, if that’s all we cried for,

That self-recognition,

Then why would we continue?

We don’t stop there.

We let tear, after tear,

Continue to wriggle

Out of the crevice

From whence they came

And fill those little bottles.


I think of all the tears

I have cried,

For friends,

For family,

For losses,

For wins,

But mainly for me.


Most of the tears

That often

Run down

My cheeks

Are for me.


I don’t catch my tears

Because I don’t want them

On my cheeks,

Or my chin,

Or my lips,

Or fingers.

I want them flicked off

In disregard

As if to prove

That they didn’t happen

Because they are for me

But they shouldn’t be

Because all those tears

The Egyptians cried

Were for others.


But, still, I cry

For me

Because the act

Propels grief

For the tears

I have not spared

For others

In a jar,

Or a flask,

Or even produced at all.


I grieve the dormant tears

That never erupted

For those that needed

Them most.


Egyptian tears we

Still cry

But without a mantel

From which to sit

They remain mental.

Uncaught,

Unobserved,

Not taken,

Not preserved,

Egyptian tears run down

My face

For me.