“The Little I Remember” by Tina Barry

Tina Barry


for Robert Herman

Twice a year if sleep eludes, I type your name
into the internet, add “obit,” assuming the dark locus
consumed you. On your Facebook page


a girlfriend had posted pictures of your last days
together, waist-deep in the Adriatic,
arm in arm at an exhibit of your photos. 
The scar above your wincing smile 
held the same power it had 40 years ago, 
when I’d board a bus for a two-hour trip


to your gray-edged room in the Lower East Side. 
I brought offerings: perfect avocados,
tickets to plays I couldn’t afford,
my young body to shine beneath your window’s
pleat of moon. I tried to be enough.  
Years later, after I had married, I wheeled my baby 


past a coffee shop, where I spotted
you, huddled at a table for one, eyes locked
on an invisible enemy. My grief sat heavy. Relief, too,


as I peered into the pink carnation
of my daughter’s face, grateful
you weren’t her father.


Oh, Robert. You had asked me
How do you enjoy life? I wanted to believe
you had found the answer,


but you scribbled the same question
on a note right before
you jumped. 

from Rattle #78, Winter 2022


Tina Barry: “I knew Robert Herman briefly when we were in our twenties. I liked him a lot, but his depression robbed our moments together of any joy. When the internet became a way to snoop, I’d check on him. I read of his success as a photographer, and discovered pictures of him with a partner. It’s comforting to know that even if he succumbed to the sadness, he experienced moments of pleasure, too.” (web)

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