Just Because I Avoid It, Doesn’t Mean It’s Not There

THE DRY EARTH

I buried you
under years of dry earth
no tears

but I marked your grave
so I can find it later

when I’m ready
when I have time

to fall into your grave
and be buried with you
there under the dry earth

holding you again
till what’s left of you
the memory of you

dissolves
and my tears float me
to the surface

or my anger claws
through earth and rock
leading me back to the sun

however long it takes
more than this day
or the next

so I drive by
dropping flowers
to say

I haven’t forgotten
where I left you
how to find you

and one day
we will meet again

when I and grief
holding hands
dive deep

into the dry earth

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So Many Missing This Year

this christmas

holiday cheer, so elusive,
melts from branches high above me
slips through my cold, cupped, waiting hands

into gray puddles. intrusive
carols wrap their warped melodies
around my wintered wonderlands

hang your ornaments, light your trees
I can’t explain. grief understands.

Fewer, Less

There are fewer of us now. We’re down by one. And I have less to say than expected.

I thought by now I’d be up and writing again. Then death came, stealing my brother when I wasn’t looking.

My words chased after them, but haven’t returned. I sit in darkness, waiting.

How do I find my place in this new world of fewer siblings? Do I count down from the top, skipping over one like hopscotch, chalk outline around a missing body?

We are fewer. I am less.

The months tiptoe by, not wanting to wake me. I wish they would stop and sit with me a while.

It’s all too fast, this life. I lie down and watch the clouds through dirty windows.

What can I say? We are fewer now. I am less.

I Need Cheering Up

COME SIT WITH ME

Come sit with me awhile, spin your tales.
I long to hear of lives and loves not mine.
Remind me once again that good prevails.

Though darkness reads my story line by line,
The final chapters still are left to write.
I long to hear of lives and loves not mine,

Courageous tales of holding back the night.
Inspire me to open wide my heart.
The final chapters still are left to write.

Bring hope, bring life. Encourage me to start
A new adventure, passionate and bold.
Inspire me to open wide my heart,

Breathe youth into this tale grown stale and old.
Dare me to believe what grief denies:
A new adventure, passionate and bold.

I listen to night’s whispers, sorrow’s lies.
Dare me to believe what grief denies.
Come sit with me awhile, spin your tales.
Remind me once again that good prevails.

Somehow, We All Lost

OPEN GRAVE

Open grave, one mourner lingers,
Settled in to watch the show.
One by one, the crows have gathered,
Signaling it’s time to go.

Sons and daughters wrapped in sackcloth,
Wives and widows veiled in lace,
File past the lowered casket.
Fractured smiles scar each face.

Some toss roses scentless, thornless.
Others shed fake, saltless tears.
Too much dirt was thrown already—
Mud enough for countless years.

Still, one mourner sits at graveside,
Watching this parade go by.
Folded flag clutched to her heart,
She doesn’t move; she doesn’t cry.

Open grave, a silent warning:
Watch your step as you draw near.
The earth in time will heal this wound,
Hope buried deep ‘neath grief and fear.

Where Yesterday’s Post Came From

How do I accept the unrecognizable life? How do I embrace that which I don’t want? How do I reconcile reality with expectation? If I let myself mourn, will I ever stop?

I’m afraid to seek answers to my own questions. I’m struggling to accept the reality of my life, stripped bare of dreams and expectations for improvement. This is my life. The totality of it. Changes may come, but they’ll be minor. This is it. When I force myself to look that closely, I usually want to go back to bed or to eat something. Maybe both.

This can’t be all there is to me! But it is. Look closely, I tell myself. Don’t turn away. Really look at what’s in front of you and gather it close. This is what years of your choices have left you with. Not what you expected, but what is. You can cry anytime now.

My sister says we need to grieve our losses. Let ourselves mourn. I’m not sure I can. When we buried our parents, we buried the last illusion of family normalcy: the gatherings and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries; the sibling connections; the big extended family carrying on generations of traditions. We scattered. I see my cousins’ families doing all those things with their children and grandchildren, and I think, “They got it right. What happened here?”

I happened here. I’m the one insisting there’s a right and wrong, and since our family doesn’t match that picture, it must be wrong. It’s not. But my feelings about it all don’t accept the difference. Still I don’t mourn, but I grieve. (For me, mourning is external, letting it out, showing the world how I feel. Grief is internal, deep and private and dark.) Grief has gripped my heart and won’t let go. It grabbed me before my parents died, as my children reached adulthood and the truth of their lives and my expectations collided.

The truth of my life. My life, not theirs. My expectations, my desires. How many times I had stood up to life and declared, “I choose love!” only to be hit in the face with a cream pie while the universe pointed and laughed. I’ve been a fool over and over again, always trying to find the best in people and situations, until there was nothing left to find, and I had to admit that everything I believed about who I am, my role in life, and my contribution to the world was a lie. The truth is here, around me, in the everyday: I’m alone, friendless, and unemployed. I chose love. Whatever for?

Grief lives in me now. It permeates everything I do, but I don’t mourn. I don’t let it out. I keep it locked tight away in my heart. It colors every contact, every moment. It’s a reminder not to trust, not to believe. Love is a lie. I can live with grief, but if I let myself mourn I’ll never stop.

Struggling to Accept My Life

IF I LET MYSELF CRY

How do I mourn the loss
of love that never bloomed?

How grieve the death of
dreams never meant to live,

Not fashioned of strong stuff,
born into daylight, made real?

How do I mourn what my soul
craves? Hollow fantasies

Wearing different faces in
dark mirrors, never mine.

Do I cry for what is? or
what will never be?