Posts Tagged ‘grief’

I Might Have Resisted

Breaking open with loss
and beauty at the same time,
my heart a frightened bird
beating against glass panes,
I almost ran from the warm theater,
threading through happy chatter
to stand alone in the cold night air,
thinking I could cry unnoticed in the dark.
But then one, then two friends
found me and took turns pulling me
into their softness, wrapping me
in such tenderness, weaving
low and soothing sounds around us
until out of love and touch and voice
they made of the moment a nest.
So gently they held my fragility
at the edge of festive shouts
and back slaps and joyous banter.
The night itself laced through
our small circle like a black silk ribbon,
tying us together,
It was only a few moments.
it was forever.

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Now I know there is a sacred cathedral
made of unspoken love,
a most beautiful cathedral  

built of generous silence,
a healing sanctuary created
by open hearts that reach out wordlessly.

I have been living in this cathedral
that your love built, and I am changed.
Now I trust loving silence

is a generous response
to another person’s pain.
When I am alone, I am not alone.

When you, in your own home,
open your hands as if in prayer,
I feel your hands holding me.

Your compassion touches me
the way light slips in through stained glass
to touch a face.

The pure hush of your hope
arrives in my heart like plainsong—
more breath than voice, as holy as any syllable.

Thank you for the ways your thoughtful silence
has lit in me thousands of candles
as I meet the darkest hours.

Now, I can’t unknow this: I trust love,
how it flourishes in the vast spaces
across miles, across time.

Such sweet, intense healing perfume—
like lilies on an altar—
the scent of your loving silence

as it opens me.

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The shocking tender curl of him,
   wild river, raging, rush of him,
     the eddied, lazy swirl of Sunday
   morning sleepy smile of him,
the flood-stage leaping wave of him,
   high overflowing shores of him,
     torrential reckless course of him,
       now empty, unfilled banks of—
     dry barren rocky bed of—
   the utter lack of here of—
the pray-for-rain parched air of him,
   dark growing rain cloud storm of him,
     the sometimes-I-hear-rapids hum,
       deep currents in my lungs of him
         how is it I still breathe him in—
       the river is inside me hymn.

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Another part of me turns left,
and it is fifteen years ago
and I am driving to my parents’ new home
and my son and I will spend the night with them
because they live there and we can.
By the time I turn onto the highway toward home
it is fifteen years ago
and my father is sitting in his favorite chair
and my son curls into his lap
and dad tells him his ears are his mouth
and they laugh
and my mother and I make tea and chat.
And I am almost to the stoplight in Ridgway
when it is fifteen years ago,
and we go outside and make a fire in the pit
and sit in a half circle and sing camp songs
and snuggle because we are there.
And when I get home, an hour later,
it is fifteen years ago
and I am so full of their presence
and roasted marshmallows and
joy and loss that I lift my son
into his crib and kiss my father
on the cheek that is now ashes
and hug my mother now far away
then walk into the house
where my son no longer lives
and I have never been
so here.

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            for Clea
We can go up there, she said,
nodding to the where the grave marker
was buried beneath feet of snow.
She knew it meant post holing
up over our knees. Uphill.
This, I thought, is true friendship.
So we wallowed through drifts
and laughed as we tripped.
And when we arrived at the place
where the ashes of my boy are buried,
I cried. And she did what the living can do—
she held me. She stood with me there
waist deep in snow and held me,
with her two strong arms, she held me.

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I remember when everything was impossible.
Impossible to move. Impossible to not move.
Impossible to eat. Impossible to not eat.
Impossible to sleep. Impossible to wake.
Impossible to imagine a time
when everything wouldn’t be impossible.
Today I walk out into a world where,
at the same time, the sun shines brilliant
and snowflakes sift through the air.
When they touch my face, cold and soft,
it’s as if the god I am not sure I believe in
has used this moment as a chance
to brush impossibly delicate fingers
across my cheeks and whisper to me
in a voice I don’t hear, yet I hear perfectly,
everything is possible, sweetheart, everything.

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The Morning After

Though I knew it was a dream,
I thrilled to see you and your sister
tap dancing together,
performing in a bowling alley of all places,
each of you standing in front of your own lane,
both of you smiling, your arms scissoring in unison,
your bodies tilted forward, your legs kicking back,
the bright tap, tappity, tappity, tap of metal on wood,
your movements perfectly synchronized.
Then off you both danced down the lanes,
flapping and turning and leaping and shuffling,
two glorious blurs as you traveled toward the pins,
long legs flying, arms extended, your faces lit up,
no music but the rhythm in your feet.
I watched you both, breathless, thinking, I love this dream.
I love it even more this morning after,
still lying in bed, eyes still closed,
heart full of wonder, cells pulsing with love.
I keep unwrapping the dream like the gift it is.
There are some who would say I’m unlucky.
I know I am wildly blessed to have known you so closely,
blessed to love you and your sister,
blessed to have been changed by you both,
blessed to know your agony and your beauty,
blessed to know by heart the sound your feet make
as they dance across this world.  

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I think of a year ago
and all I did not know.
I do not hold my innocence
against myself.
If there is a future me,
I toast her tonight.
May she look back at me
as I light this white candle
and whisper love into the flame.
May her thoughts be generous
as she remembers
how it is to live
with this heart,
both ruined
and burnished by loss.
As I toe the edge of the year,
the edge of the moment,
I imagine her waiting
on the other side, saying,
Jump, sweetheart, jump,
I’ve got you.
Or perhaps she says
nothing at all,
but stands there as I do now
looking back,
arms impossibly open.

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All those nights
we’d go to the hot springs.
Once warm,
we’d roll in snow
and call ourselves
sugar cookies
then jump back
into steaming water.
Today, I do it again.
In the untouched snow
beside my shape
I see where your slender
shape is not.
I slip back
into the water.
Everything the snow
has touched
Everything your life
has touched
is even more alive.

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Saying Goodbye

To say goodbye to one person you love
is to say goodbye to part of yourself.

I must have them, you think. You think,
I can never be whole without them.

But in that gap of the fabric, that tear made of love,
is a place you can climb into at any time

and know the true shape of yourself, which is infinite.
Sometimes it takes the sharp ache of loss

to feel into the truth of our interconnectedness,
to know what the quantum physicists know—

how woven we are with each other,
with the universe,

how woven we are with all that is living
and all that is what we call dead.

Though it’s science, it’s also a kind of faith.
And it’s dark. And it’s sweet. And it’s beautiful,

and it’s terrifying, this thread that reminds us
just how much we belong to the rest of the world,

this thread we can’t untie even if we want to,
this thread that tethers us to one another, to eternity.

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