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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

 

 

Every year the red or pink envelopes would arrive,

three of them tucked into the post office box—

one for my daughter, one for my son, and one

for me. Sally always remembered. My children

were, perhaps, a bit cavalier about the cards—

they’d read the Valentines and smile and set them aside.

But I had an inkling of the longing to give love

inside them. How beautiful her heart.

How lucky I felt to be chosen by her.

How lucky to return her love.

 

This year, only bills in the post office box

and catalogs for sheets and seeds and clothes.

And the part of me who knows she is gone

shrugs as if I should just go on. But the part

of me who misses her longs today to find

her familiar script on a red envelope. I know

that it’s unreasonable. That doesn’t stop hope.

 

I tell the part that misses her that it’s okay

to grieve. That it’s okay to feel empty today.

That it’s okay to want to believe in miracles.

I love the part of me that misses her—I love

how it insists on remembering this gift:

Such a wonder to be loved by someone,

such a marvel to love them back.

 

 

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How It Goes with Hope

Eventually a burning hope
becomes ember, becomes glow,
becomes gone.
Whatever fuel it found
is spent, is done, is ash.
Not that you blame hope
for losing its brilliance.
More that you become
increasingly intimate with what is.
What is is an absence. What is
doesn’t sit in your lap. What is
doesn’t come to the door.
What is is very quiet.
But there is, if not hope,
a tenderness that lingers,
a tenderness that has a glow
of its own, a tenderness
that you carry with you
until it becomes you,
a warmth, a golden light
there when you fall asleep,
still there when you rise.
*
(note: sweet friends, thank you for all the emails and even the lovely letter about the loss of our cat, Otter. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. She has not returned, and I am quite sure she met a predator. But my dear friend Jack gave me the sweetest advice: Please, when you are ready, begin to—maybe for only a minute—carry Otter in your body. That invitation a couple weeks ago was the basis for the feeling that evolved into this poem. And here it is, evidence of the small ways that we help each other as we carry grief. Thank you all. Thank you.)

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deep desert canyon of the heart—

it remembers when

it was ocean

 

 

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Missing

 

 

Hope is, perhaps, a quantum thing,

a paradox, like Schrödinger’s cat,

simultaneously alive and dead.

 

Today, I wandered the snowy field

and the icy banks and the shadowed wood,

calling the name of my sweet gray cat.

 

If I could find her now, I’d see

she’s either alive or dead.

But in this moment of uncertainty,

 

she’s both alive and dead to me.

I’m tugged by both possibilities as I wade

through tall dry grass. Oh damn that hope,

 

and bless it, too, how just a candle-measure

opposes a whole tower of unfounded certainty,

sends me out into the blizzard

 

calling her name, listening.

 

 

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catching sight

of where she isn’t—

in the dark behind the window

I see only

my own searching

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And maybe

though there

is no floor

you find

the grace

in falling—

after all

those years

of baby

steps, with

one plunge

you’re

evolving

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I fell in love, today, with the black

and blue marker stains on the table

made by the two-year-old boy—

he colored in the circles he’d drawn

with so much enthusiasm that the ink

seeped through the paper

and into the lemon cream paint on the table

where no amount of scrubbing could remove it.

 

It wasn’t so much the stain though, no,

and it wasn’t the color. What I fell in love with

was the way his mother didn’t see

that the table was ruined. She saw

that he did such a fine, precise job,

that he took so much pleasure in the coloring.

And when I apologized for bringing markers

that didn’t easily wash, she looked at me

with so much surrender and said,

“On a day like today,

who could worry about a table?”

 

It was yesterday they found the dog

waiting beside the car.

It was this morning the skier’s body was found

in a massive snow slide.

It was all day, through the stupor of loss,

I fell in love with the shape of empty branches,

the scent of black tea, the sound

of my son’s voice, fell in love

with the grace in the way my friend shrugged

when she saw the table, the way she hugged

her son. She offered me chocolate from London.

We ate the squares slowly. All day the gray edge

of grief made every little thing

more precious, more sweet.

 

 

 

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One Great Loss

—for Jack

 

 

such terrible silence

when the dog isn’t whining at the door—

the space on the dog bed empty

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Losing It

 

 

It was a tiny percentage, I knew, but still

there was some French royalty somewhere

in my blood. I would spend hours imagining

myself in my proper place: in a long pink dress

 

and thin gold crown in a castle on a green hillside,

doing needlepoint, no doubt, and nibbling bon bons,

and so when I again asked my mother to tell me about

that part of our heritage, she told me,

 

It’s so little blood, and you’ve had so many

skinned knees, I’m pretty sure you’ve

bled it all out by now. And I was instantly

less grandiose. That was, perhaps, the first identity

 

that I was aware of losing. But soon after that,

I was no longer blonde. And soon after that,

I no longer lived in Wisconsin. And soon after that,

I was no longer a Scout. Everything I thought

 

I knew about myself didn’t last. Ah,

the litany of losses. Those notions of who we are,

how they shed, they spill, they slip off.

As they’re lost, we usually rush to replace them.

 

I became worker. Lover. Parent. Friend.

We wear them so close, these identities ,

that we no longer see them as separate. We think

they’re who we are. But what if we skinned

 

not just our knees, but our thoughts,

and let those roles escape? Who would

be left to walk through the field this evening

to see the double rainbow stretched across the east?

 

 

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There was a time when I’d pull his hair out

if he sat too close to me on the couch.

Now, I curl into his right side,

lean my head on his shoulder,

feel the trembling of his chest

as he weeps. How good it feels

to be close to him as we grieve.

How familiar, the shape of his head,

the heft of his hand as he reaches for mine.

How deeply right, this leaning

into sorrow together.

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