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Poetry by Honey Novick

Nahom Berhane
Published March 11, 2016
Wax Poetry and Art - Contests
Poetry Contest #11
Socially Engaged & Satirical Poetry Contest #1
Under 25 Poetry Contest #1
Prize-Builder Contest for Published & Unpublished Poems #1
~ Wax Poetry and Art: "Nahom Berhane", poem by Honey Novick ~

Nahom Berhane

I knew Nahom. I liked Nahom.
I liked Nahom because he was open and friendly and smart and creative and giving.
He cared.
We walked through the rooftop garden of Access Alliance.
It was supposed to be a business meeting. It became a meeting of friends.
I can't believe I'll never see him again. I can't believe this.

Yom Kippur 2014 found me at the Medhane Eritrean Christian Church
I didn’t want to be there for a funeral
I didn’t want to be there
I did want to be there because everyone who loved Nahom would be there.
I would merely be one more.

It was the hand of a murderer that drew thousands of people
to this tiny west end church,
immigrants, refugees, many came from North Africa in search of a fulfilling dream
but it was murder that drew us all together,
Why did a great man have to be stabbed to death
during the changing season, on a dark night on the Danforth in Toronto?

Nahom Berhane was my associate, my friend,
someone who liked my creative work well enough
to want to add it to his community,
We spoke for hours in the sunshine
on a rooftop garden, and just like our conversation, the garden was in full bloom.

He, Eritrean, me, granddaughter of a Falasha, North African;
somehow we understood we were related.
He was a people person, an ideas man, a go-getter, a do-gooder,
young, dynamic, accessible, friendly, warm, open.

He met his deadly fate;
but, someone, somewhere, somehow, knows WHY.
A 23 year-old misanthropic,
brandishing a fatal weapon,
used it,
skewered not just a man but a whole community
with hopes, dreams, expectations
and someone with a family, friends.

Why was the sword more powerful than the pen that night?

That sword, knife, sabre, pierced the hearts of law-abiding citizens
bringing us together on Yom Kippur, 2014
on Ramsden St., under the roof and on the stairs of the Eritrean church
listening to the words of Solomon.

Solomon, today your words of wisdom are waning.
I don’t hear you.
Wisdom must offer comfort
even if it is peppered with harshness.

Solomon, it is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement
the Day of At-One-Ment.
One by the keenly sharp blade of a dagger
One via homicide
One in spirit of sadness and grief

There must be a better way

As I left the Church, the pungent, powerful scent of a eucalyptus branch wafted,
a beckoning tendril,
rising from a rain soaked cement street.
It curled and enticed and reached my sense of smell

It announced itself, mystically, serendipitously,
through the keening and ululating and chirring and wailing and
susurrous murmurs of grief.

This eucalyptus branch, like the memory of Nahom, would not be forgotten,
left on the ground.
Its scent is attention-getting, poignant, sinus-clearing, healing.

It will live with me in my living room, near the piano, close to the altar.
It will live with me for as long as possible,
just as Nahom lived with all of us for as long as was possible.

Editor's note: Nahom Berhane was a community leader in Toronto, whose life was
tragically cut short in 2014.
Read more about Nahom Berhane.

Honey Novick is a singer/songwriter/voice teacher/poet.  She is a full member of The
League of Canadian Poets and the winner of the 2014 Empowered Poet Award from
the World Poetry Society.  She sings with bill bissett and current City of Toronto Poet
Laureate George Elliott Clarke.
~ This is a free publication. Like, share, leave a tip, and subscribe. Thank you. ~
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