How Did They Break It To You? This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 31, 2011
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Dear Former Cabrini Resident,

How did they break it to you?
Did they send you a letter?
A form letter, addressed to a number
Anonymous, like the number on your door.
A white envelope
Innocent when sealed, but when opened –
a shock of a thousand volts.
A letter made from an arrangement of letters,
assembled on a page
as words
Deciding the fate of your existence.
How did they break it to you?

How did they break it to you?
Did they come to your door?
Knocking three times, serious knocks, hollow, devoid of

Did they look into your eyes when they said it?
To see your reaction — or lack thereof?
Did they react to your reaction?
Or just blurt out the news and then bolt
Like a hit and run, a drive by, a robotic telegram,
an empty urn, serving you the news.
How did they break it to you?

How did they break it to you?
Did you hear it from a neighbor?
From a fellow survivor, sufferer, witness of all things unseen?
Or from a mouse, a rat, a roach –
preparing for evacuation
going off some inexplicable animal instinct sensing unrest.
Or through the grapevine of gossip, from which you would soon be

Cut off from the source
Cut off from the roots
Cut off from the very foundation.

But these are mere speculations
Inevitably ignorant assumptions, not unlike the ones that decided your

So, you tell me,
How did they break it to you?

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