Grace there used to be in the mourning
Banded arms, veil-shrouded tears
Private yet publicly seen scenes
Black cars with black windows
To hold the bleakness inside
So that it doesn’t leak out and get on passers-by
Why did it have to come the year she understood
there is no afterlife This is life, get after it
One per customer, one size fits most
Unless you have the imagination for two
Which proves good, since she is one now.
Why did he write for forever preserved in words, her manna
His inked fingerprints staining the paper “I hope this is your best year yet”
In the year that all colors turned to ash, heart turned into
Endless forms, mailings, courtrooms
The vagaries of dead life
Why did people say ‘he’s watching over you’ like
That is comforting – oh, to comfort them, that’s right
Because love can barely bear to watch the loved
Suffer, fall apart, spin out of control, lay staring at the ceiling
Mumbling like a mad person alone in the dark
I opened up the magnum of memorabilia that is
Life, until death did us part
And let the warm taste of remembered love
Fill my mouth, overflow my lips and spill onto my chest.
As it soaked into my skin near my breastbone
It felt heavier than before
When it was a living thing
Infused with the daily breathing in of you
I traced the line of your jaw on the screen
Looked deep into your brown lively eyes
And fell backwards in time
Like a drunken sailor on first shore leave
As I fell, images flashed past my mind’s eye
Sex on the beach (and not in a cup)
A fight in an alley in a downpour
People-watching from balconies, making up their lives in snippets
Broken bones and torn flesh in a hospital bed
Pale freckled face awash in computer screen back-light
Frolicking with the dogs in the pasture with frost
Hands on my shoulders and a kiss on the head
It is an old-time carousel slide show that lives in my brain
Locked tight, unmoving, until release becomes necessary
To let grief seep out through selected pores
So as not to overwhelm the universe with the heaviness
Curled up on the floor of my memory, eyes open wide
Dry heaving up love, tears, laughter and pain
I realize I have done the previously thought unimaginable
Lived, without you by my side
It looks different though, from out here
Than it did from beside you back there Hindsight is twenty-twenty it is said
And one cannot un-know the known
Like an abandoned tortoise shell
Some of the intricate scaling
That transforms the bony carapace
Swings loosely, revealing the hard truth
The love stands unscathed
Even as in acknowledged, willful destruction
I smash the magnum, watch it shatter explosively
And I tiptoe warily through the sharp edges of broken illusion,
I swallow two doses of reality, served up by elapsed time
Before I lay my swimming head down on the pillow
And hydrate my weary blood as it pounds in my head
With the waters of understanding
And so, when I awaken in the morning
Hopefully I will circumvent
The disorientation, the wincing, the vulnerability
Of a memory hangover of you
Inspiration: I finally gained access to an external hard drive, inaccessible for several years. Inside were photos, E-mails written, poems, fragments of a ten-year segment of my life. Even a .wav file, with my late husband saying “To my love and my wife, I love you now, and forever”, recorded over ten years ago. And there were other, more bitter, things.
I’ve never had a hangover personally, don’t get them; but I watched their impact on him for many years.
Thanks go out to a friend, who, a few months ago, in one sentence by a fire-ring, made a hairline crack in the illusion, something that I was too weak to do.
I watch the night skies, all alone
And will my heart not to turn to stone.
Days come and nights fall
I push, fight hard, against melancholy’s pall.
A flower blooms and butterflies are born
Betwixt past and future I am ever torn.
It is in the day-to-day
I feel sometimes that I lose my way.
Love is not found by constant striving
Rather stumbled upon while otherwise thriving
So my task upon each new waking
Is to live and learn, each joy gently taking.
Perhaps through chance and undiscovered treasure
My heart once again will beat with perfect measure
In one-two cadence…give, receive, give, receive.
Inspiration: I worked nights at the time of my husband’s death, so star-gazing was a ‘thing’. This was written during a time of serious depression, although I didn’t know it was that at the time. It is the first poem I wrote after the death. I’ve come a long way since then.