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Fast walking with a friend through the parking lot of Kfar Nachman Cemetery in Raanana, Israel

By Jennifer Lang

PROMPT — If only ...

Groves of citrus trees face the already-full-for-an-early-weekday-morning car park. Sorrow has no schedule. Last week, we buried a friend. Death by hanging. Suicide: felo-de-se or one guilty concerning himself. But what about the others: their young adult children, his middle-aged wife-turned-widow? During her eulogy, when revealing his inner torment, I head-on collided with shock. Eight years of friendship + no mention of mental illness = shame^2‏. If only we had known. Men lowered his corpse, covered by a prayer shawl, into the earth. A coffin-less country. Mourners approached the pit, grabbed shovels, gathered dirt, and dumped: plunk! Now, while walking on an inferno-hot day, I pause. Birds trill. Trucks growl. Words misfire. My heart shatters.


Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jennifer Lang lives in Tel Aviv, where she runs Israel Writers Studio. Her prize-winning essays appear in Baltimore Review, Under the Sun, Midway Journal, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and was an Assistant Editor at Brevity. Her award-winning Places We Left Behind: a memoir-in-miniature will be followed by Landed: A yogi's memoir in pieces & poses (10/15/2024) both with Vine Leaves Press.


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