Tag Archives: loss

poetry

 

you ask how I’m managing

but you cut your ears off

 

years ago

 

fingers smooth as

tree bark touch my wrist

 

there are daisies where your

eyes should be

 

you’re all I write about –

did you know this?

 

don’t be flattered

 

it’s easier to

write about misery

than it is to

write about love

 

to write about love

is to try slowing the

beating of your heart

to match the pace of your fingers

 

like holding a moth

in cupped hands

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did she (part III)

 

clasp cold hand

over cold hand

over mouth

 

fingers like

branches

search for the

telephone but they are

catching on all the edges

 

and we are

unraveling

unraveling

un

rav

el

ing

.

 

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did she (part I)

 

put on the coffee first?

pick up the metal measuring cup,

a twenty-six year old wedding gift

counting in her head:

 

one

 

two

 

three

 

or was the back door cracked

just enough to call her to it?

 

the sun was rising just as

brilliantly as it always does,

 

just as

 

unforgiving

as it always is.

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I think he’d even ask for you

my sweet, small son with

so much light in his eyes

is busy wrapping small fingers

around everything he shouldn’t

 

and you are not here to call out that

bellowing “yo”, shake your head and

belly laugh, sip a glass of chianti

I’d  snuck next to your plate.

 

I bet he’d stay on your lap just

a bit longer than anyone else’s.

 

I bet you’d have some way of

taming this small beast that

would leave us all wondering, how.

 

I think he’d even ask for you

when his tongue starts forming words.

 

I still think he’ll know to,

somehow, even with you gone –

grandpa, great grandpa, I love you. 

 

 

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Daydreams

No May will be the same, perched with
legs barely pretzeled against round earth belly;
I am waiting for your glorious arrival, curtained in sweat
and sighs of relief and tears like spring showers growing life.

But there is something else there too, wondering
if grief and blinding love could link arms for an
evening on the edge of my hospital bed.

I wonder if you’ll arrive on the day he
was born, wrapped in some form of him.
I wonder if I’ll know it (in the shape of your eyes)
in the way your small mouth might curve unknowingly
like it is full of all his stories, like it is screaming I’m near.

Maybe he’ll take every strength he wished
he’d had and place it in your hands and feet,
maybe when I hold you I’ll be holding him too.

At night I rest my head on quiet thoughts
of him here, just as flesh and blood as you
are flesh and blood, just as warm, and in
delicate pockets of time he is asking to be
the one to sing you to sleep.

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This is How You Grieve Him

With aging photos, phone calls planning dinner,

with the same story of the same diner pancakes

on countless Sundays that you never finished, but

were allowed to order anyway.

 

With your great aunt in the hospital hallway

being selfish as usual, with your father in the

hospital hallway with circles under his eyes

the size of dinner plates, dirt in the brim of

his baseball cap, sipping coffee and watching

his father die.

 

You grieve him with the counting of his breath

like the anticipation between lightning and thunder,

with laughter you managed to scrape from the very

bottom of your lungs.

 

With yoga, with a glass of milk, with quick,

quiet crying in the cereal aisle of the supermarket.

 

You line up sympathy cards like paper trinkets

on the mantel, and you grieve because they grieve for you.

 

You grieve without sadness too, the first time you’re able

to say you lost him without hunching your shoulders.

 

With every look at your rounding belly,

the shape of some new world without him in it

except he is, in the still unknown face of your son.

 

Over coffee, over breakfast, over a good book,

watching your favorite television show, paying

for an ice cream, kissing your husband goodnight,

brushing your hair.

 

You grieve him in any way, in every way, in light and dark,

your grandfather.

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Heirlooms

You left us quietly,
    an open window, a love note, a door ajar.

Mother called and I was already waking
from a half-sleep, when she said it I tried to
keep from biting down on the bathroom tile.

I won’t know how long it took you
    but it was
         two minutes
for my hair to all turn gray,
my bones to turn to ash in the sheets,
my husband to sift through the mess and find me,
pull me close.

I curled like paper to a flame,
    tied a silk ribbon around my lungs and
tried my best to keep the night quiet.

I was searching the ceiling expecting to see you there
like some death novel, a holy farewell before
you were smoked out like a criminal.

In the hospital I held your face
                  like an heirloom.

You kissed my cheek
like I’d done good and I felt
me grow a little older.

I am wearing at my fingers
    like skipping stones from our mountain days
so I won’t forget
how your skin felt in my hands
with life still behind it.

I’ll keep busy,
learning to tie knots in my heart
                         to fill the void,
                         to keep from aging.

Promise me

you’ll pour a glass and
open the curtain
     from time to time
if only to check,
if only to whisper hello
with a smile.

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great-grandmother

 

didn’t smell like freshly

baked bread or even musky perfume,

she smelled like all that was right

with the world in a cashmere sweater and a

hand-knit American flag pinned to one shoulder

 

great-grandmother

was a 1930’s movie starlet on our home’s

answering machine, she was

“toodles” like a

New York City doll with a cigarette perched

between two red polished fingernails

 

great-grandmother was homemade chocolate

pudding and a tired couch where all of her

anxious great-grandchildren sat, turning over

small trinkets from corners of the living room

where it was never a crime to place curious

hands on every aging surface

 

great-grandmother was all modern woman

she scoffed at the cancer in her chest like we’d

just spilled hot chocolate on the peach rug,

always keeping busy always in a rush

she called it from the end of the hallway

“toodles”, just before the curtain fell

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Seven

 

I am still in our bed

I am still counting

your footsteps that faded hours ago

and where you placed

your fingers on me

is still burning like it’s

known death too soon.

 

Ages ago we were

somewhere in moonlight

decoding one another

and your spine was the most beautiful braille

so I’d close my eyes

inhale your literature

and sing out all your best stories.

 

I was never aware

that I was becoming illiterate

instead I woke

to the same old sunlight

and suddenly the tides of your breath

were leaving me

empty as the words that had stopped forming.

 

There is no you

on my lips anymore

just some old story

that has hardened on my tongue

and I am desperate to forget

it was seven

 

seven footsteps that carried you away from me.

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If I Were to Lose You

 

if i were to lose you

 

it would be in

handfuls of plums

from the fruit basket,

the last piece bruised,

but worth the keep.

 

i’d hold it in my hands

the tiny tender heart

i’d take a bite

and then

another.

 

and after i’d made it

to the pit

i would crack every tooth

because you told me

once:

 

that every thing

i’ve always

longed for

is buried in the

hardest parts

of me.

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