Fetching Bones

I put on sunscreen to block it all out.



I rub it onto my skin, massage it gently
over my nose,
under my eyes
but not too close. Not too close
because when I cry it will sting/if I cry.
I feel my fingers on my cheeks
but not much else.
I block it all out.

Orlando. Tel Aviv.

A dab here — I block out their faces.
A dab there — I block out their arms, their shoulders, their collarbones.

I heard the Orlando shooter used a gun that would shatter their bones.

My fingers trace the back of my neck with lotion — I block out their necks,
focus on the part of my back
I can’t reach.

Because it’s summertime and I burn easily.
I think about how fragile I am, I really am,
all people are. But I can’t think about
them right now, or I might collapse.

In Tel Aviv the shooters took a sip of coffee before they made their rounds. Ordered brownies. Why delay? Am I gagging?

There’s a stinging in my chest cavity.
There’s a stinging in my throat.
There’s a stinging in my eyes.

I’m not allergic to this brand.

My hands
lose sensation — that’s where the
killing is, in the hands.

It’s the hands that pull the heart to action,
that deliver the wrath of consciousness.

The hands and the mouth (as I type).

Certain countries chop them off for misdemeanors — the hands and the tongues.

I wonder what the world would look like if no one had hands,
what it would sound like without tongues.

It takes a hand to hack a hand, fingers to fondle the handle of the knife (I hate the way that sounds).

Fingers pull triggers,
fingers point in different directions,
fingers type messages on keyboards,
fingers wipe sunscreen out of eyes (a Western concept; I’m more aware of geography though I could be anywhere).

I have sunscreen in my eye.

What if the world were blind?

Is the world blind?

What does it look like when a terrorist cries? (These words look odd on the page)

I jump at a dog’s bark. What is he telling me?

My body covered in lotion, their faces popping in.


All of their faces.

From Tel Aviv.

From Orlando.

From Magnanville.

On the Jaffa boardwalk.

At a bus stop in Jerusalem.

At her front door in Otniel.

At their home in Duma.

From that club in Paris,

that supermarket in Paris,

that restaurant in Paris.

On the streets of Paris.

On Dizengoff in Tel Aviv.

At Max Brenner in Tel Aviv.

//Just some of the ones reported, and not reported//

//Since New Years last year//

//Bullets, Knives, Steering Wheels, Hand Grenades, Miseducation//

//How much do we burn before we hurt? Before we do something to stop it?//

Belgium         Turkey
Thailand         Egypt
Yemen           South Carolina
Nigeria           Tunisia
Afghanistan    California
Kenya            Mali
Syria              Israel
Florida           …

//Everywhere the sun is, and isn’t.//

All of their faces, faces I haven’t seen.

Faces that never will be seen.

Maybe their graves will be barked at.

I apply more sunscreen, block it all out.

I wonder what happens when we feel.

About the Author
Atara Vogelstein is a recent graduate of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, where she concentrated in Creative Writing, Drama, and Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Drama Therapy at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
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