Posts Tagged ‘loss’


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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Down the Rabbit Hole

It’s the Year of the Rabbit,
and I can’t help but think
of the photo of my son
the week before he died
holding a white rabbit in Ecuador—
a rabbit he bought and loved for an hour.
“Mom,” he said through the phone,
“can I bring home a rabbit? Please?”
I told him it wouldn’t make it through customs,
but he could buy one here at home.   
It’s the Year of the Rabbit,
and it feels right the crawl spaces
beneath our porches now shelter
the sweetest brown bunnies.
Where did they come from?
Every day now, my husband feeds them
pellets and lettuce. Every day
I watch for their tracks in the snow,
thrill when I see the sweet lumps
of their bodies as they venture into the day.
It’s the year of the Rabbit,
a time, they say, for calm
and patient energy.
I don’t know if I believe in the zodiac,
but I believe in gentleness.
I believe in thinking things through.
I believe in peace.
It’s the Year of the Rabbit,
and I am in love with rabbits—
with their large ears and feet
and their quivering noses
and the way they have hopped their way
into my life bringing softness
where there has been pain,
bringing calm where there has been trauma.
I will go down that rabbit hole.
I will make in that burrow a home.  

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One Everywhere

like Christmas tree needles
still appearing long after the tree is gone—
these memories of you

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One Ghost

camera with no film—
taking photos of all the places
you are not

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Dear Heather,

on William’s birthday

There was a time before we lost our sons,
a time before the long walks in the frozen woods,
a full-bellied time when we cherished how they grew.

Today the snow came again, at last,
though it was more sifting than deep drift.
I notice I want more.

It’s so human to want more, I tell myself.
More snow, more time, more love,
more memories of making fires in winter,

tasting summer s’mores, feeding hummingbirds,
making cookies, speaking silly languages,
skinny dipping in the river, singing to Rusted Root.

It feels right their birthdays should feel heavy—
heavy as the snow that didn’t fall today,
heavy as the bodies they didn’t grow into.

Oh, the weight of love—light as the sunshine
that slanted through the room between squalls,
substantial as the tractors our boys are not driving.

I think of how much we’ve grown in their absence—
which is to say how much we’ve grown
in the company of heartache, the company of love,

how powerfully loss has stretched us.
Somehow, these boys linger in our being.
They arrive through song, through silence.

In this after time, we feed them with memories—
some true, some more than true.
Each time we say their names, they grow.

It’s so human to want more, no matter
how reconciled we are to what is. Oh,
for more time, somehow, between forever and now.

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By Heart

So familiar, how the dusky pink sunset
glows above snow-covered mountains,
The color blesses me as I walk alone
while Eva Cassidy sings in my ear,
I know you by heart,
I know you by heart.
My son has been dead
for over year, and now by heart
is the only way I know him.
No longer by touch, by sound, by scent.
Eva sings about how old joy
lives on and on,
and I breathe into the truth of it.
Two years ago I sent my son photographs
of this same dusky pink sunset
over snow-covered mountains—
there was joy in sharing it with him
and I feel that joy now as I talk to him,
my words coming out as visible air
as I speak to what cannot be seen.
Eva sings it again, a descending line,
I know you by heart.
I am grateful for the certainty
that rings through me in song.
He is here. As is joy.
Though he is gone.

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The Long Marriage

Perhaps I know you best in the dark—
that nightly shrine
where my belly meets your spine,
where the bend of my knees
meets the bend of your knees,
where my warmth meets your warmth,
the night a vase
in which we place
the stems of our bodies,
in which I know myself
through touch.
And nothing must be said
and nothing must be done
except to meet the long familiar flesh,
this honoring of nakedness.

Perhaps I know you best in the dark—
these lightless hours when
we sit in the midst of brokenness
and my hand finds your hand,
and my silence finds your silence,
my loss finds your loss,
and together, somehow,
we find peace.
And nothing can be said.
And nothing can be done
to change the past.
We meet in the these darkened hours,
with nothing but our willingness
to meet these darkened hours,
these hours we would have pushed away,
these hours that bring us closer to each other.

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Because you are gone,
I will never again stand
in your doorway and listen
to the sound of your breath
as you sleep.
I can remember the way
it used to calm me—
the slow, even rhythm
that proved you were alive.
I used to laugh at myself.
As if you wouldn’t be alive.
How farfetched it felt,
the idea of your death.
Now, I hear the absence
of your breath everywhere—
everywhere is a doorway
where I find you are not.
And so I listen.

Sometimes it seems as if a silence
is breathing me,
and somehow, you live in that silence.
I don’t know how it works.
I only know that since you are gone,
sometimes listening feels like communion.
Sometimes when I am very quiet,
when there is no sound at all,
I hear you say nothing.
It’s everything.

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A whole garden of begonias
blesses me this day,
this double-edged day
in which I find myself
in a long and generous park
with my husband and daughter,
and I also find myself
in a small room one year ago
when I last heard your voice,
when I last felt you squeeze my hand.
How strange and honest it is,
this living in two days at once.
Why was I drawn to walk
to this unfamiliar place
where thousands of white
and red begonias bloom,
undeterred by longer nights,
by shade?
You loved this flower.
For you, every flower,
no matter its real name,
was begonia.
I meet the coincidence
as if it’s a generous sign
you still guide me
in ways I do not understand.
Each begonia petal is a key
to pick the locks of my rational mind.
Today, the doors of love
are visible everywhere.
I open them every time
and all the world’s begonia.

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Sometimes I toss the postcards into recycling
as easily as I would a realtor’s flier.
Sometimes I hold them a long time,
standing in the post office lobby
beside the giant green plastic bin,
staring at his typewritten name—
a name chosen with so much love—
and those glossy squares of paper link me back to a time
when he was here, eager in school,
in love with his brain and what it could do,
dreaming of majors and scholarships.

A woman weeping over junk mail—
that thought is enough to make me laugh
through the tears. The only thing
that makes me more sad
than receiving these letters with his name
is knowing soon they won’t arrive anymore.
There will be nothing in the mailbox with his name.

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