Noemi Siren Soto


The Option of Forgetting

The woman sitting next to me waiting for the bus is speaking loudly into her phone
She's telling her mother about the aftershocks happening in Haiti
Her voice is rough and scratchy with a thick Brooklyn accent
She pulls the cigarette from her mouth and holds it in between her bright red fingernails
"You should have seen it Ma..." she says

as a cloud of smoke escapes her lips
"You should have seen how happy those orphans were when they saw Americans coming to get them. Everything’s getting so much better there now, they have water.”

Those words smack my ear with full force and fall lifeless at my feet

Something in me begins to tremble like the streets of Port Au Prince

Times like this is when you learn the importance of patience and the art of holding one’s tongue

I want to tell her that,

right now…

Right now…

While she’s sitting here slowly and quite willingly killing herself with tobacco

That there are people lying under rubble begging the lord to spare their lives

Somewhere in Haiti

There is a husband who witnessed his wife die before his very eyes

and now has to carry the burden of guilt for being the one to survive.

There is a mother who is walking the chaotic and destroyed streets searching for her children

There is a child trapped



and screaming for help.

Her nonchalant, naive attitude taps into a part of me that I didn’t even know existed.

I begin to realize how callous I have been.

I have to,

you see,

it is because I feel too much that makes me want to feel nothing at all.

When I see the faces of the crying children, I can feel their pain.

I take in their sadness and make it mine.

The images of destruction tattoo themselves on my mind and heartbreak washes over me.

I want to save each and every one

But I can’t

So I rather forget about it altogether

And that thought both startles and comforts me

But do not be mistaken

I carry their pain with me everywhere I go.

it follows me

from the homeless man on the street corner

to the pregnant woman begging for food on the train

I take all of their suffering in and let it etch itself into everything I do

If I don’t try to push it out of my thoughts

It will consume me and swallow me whole.

It is because I feel too much that makes me want to feel nothing at all.



Noemi Siren Soto is a Brooklyn native, born and raised in Coney Island. Growing up with the deteriorating amusement park as her backyard, she has always been able to find the beauty in all things gritty and broken. This continues today as her writing proves to be vivid and brutal, yet full of hope. She has been published in South Jersey Underground, All Things Girl, Asphodel Madness, Sofrito for your Soul and is currently working on her first book. Her work can be found at www.SirensDreamland.com, which won the 2010 award in poetry from Blogs by Latinas.

August 2010