Grief

 

it came in waves today

grief did

the sound of Yolanda Adams opening her heart

did it

I was wrong to listen

her voice was a gun

her lyrics, a trigger

me, the victim

she was thunder

my tears

rain

Yolanda knows I can’t listen to that song

it hoola hooped on the radio in ’99

the year we lived with him

and I combed my Barbie’s hair to her voice

as my Dad’s memory rode on the backs of those lyrics

a warrior

the knight and shining armor

of my adolescents

invisible crown on his head

he is bald now

cancer ate away his hair

and I rubbed Witch Hazel on his foot

I kissed his forehead

I am thirteen again and my heart is inexperienced

I am not ready for the lightening on its way to me

My hands are too small to hold the weight of what’s about to happen

“What if I choose the wrong thing to do?”

she sings

and in my warrior walks

the cab driver in nice suits

his words are “hip” like his style and his commandments

“don’t sleep ready rose,” meaning,

“don’t sleep in your outside clothes”

“I feel so lost, I don’t know what to do,”

in he walks

tight-roping Yolanda’s lyrics

In those sharp suits

riding on the back of my preteen memories

and I curl my small fingers into a fist

and fit them inside the center of my Dad’s palm

the way we used to do

the way his hand covered my entire fist

the way he’s tight-roping on my heart strings

the way memory crawled its way into my throat this morning

“I just need to hear one word from you,” 

Yolanda’s voice penetrates the clouds

the thunder growls

the lightning strikes

and I am thirteen again and the year is 2000

the final moan of a passing storm

and James walks out of the door

his name planting kisses on my forehead

and anointing my eyes

with grief

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For Rose – A Story in a Single Image

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The city never afforded her body the chance to be this intimately part of creation in the way to which her eyes were now experiencing. The sun danced splashes of yellows on her skin and the light immersed her body into the landscape. Forty-two acres of earth welcomed Chelsea until her eyes were not big enough to hold all of it at one time. The sun seemed to come down from the sky to personally greet her and she felt a closeness to the heavens like never before. It was as if she could reach up to the sky and capture the wings of angels in the palms of her hands. A treasure of luminaries in a bowl of black dirt. The only sounds audible were locust and grasshoppers that leaped through the air like children playing hide and seek with the clouds and the growling motors of cars racing by. The land did not reach any homes on the right or the left for at least a mile or two nor were there any houses in front of her. Chelsea remembered feeling lonely and yet the way the trees stretched its branches wide reminded her of a mother’s embrace. Only Forrest stood across from her, a gate closed her into her grandmother’s inheritance, and community spoke like laughter beyond Sara’s womb. She bent her knees and crouched closer to the ground, plucking handfuls of grass from the rich dirt. She had to touch it to make sure that it was real. How could something so beautiful be the result of something so painful? What Grandma Rose left to her would nourish generations of children and her heart ached that Nana would not be here to drink glasses of lemonade on the front porch of their country home or eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. “Rose”. She said it below a whisper and let the smile crease into her face and wrap itself around her cheeks. It had been weeks since she smiled. Nana always knew how to do just that. Amazing how she consoled her even beyond the grave. The woman let the emotion wash over her and the tears race down her face and drip from her lips. The sun bowed its final curtsy before lowering itself into sleep for the night and Chelsea cried for the last time. Her tears all courage shaped in her throat. Finally, the grief had come to an end.

I’m Sorry

death
it’s sting
produces a humility powerful enough

to find itself a home
even inside the heart of the one

who holds the cup of “I’m sorry’s”
hoping their voice is sad enough

to produce the kind of sympathy
that peels back the brick

that found itself a place

inside the gut of the bereaved
the lump
waiting inside their throats
is this “I’m Sorry” strong enough?
“I’m sorry”
makes me feel guilty
because I know that it is not enough,

in fact
it almost sounds cliché
how can this routine “I’m sorry”

ever guarantee the sincere apology I feel
for the woman
who lost her husband in the hands of doctors

with spines like jellyfish,
the inconsiderate “I’m sorry”

floating out the window of the hospital,
where his breath left it’s good bye on the table

without warning
didn’t want to wake her sleeping gorgeous
so he left in the middle of the night
just to see her smile one last time
for he knew that she would smile

in her dreams

Or the man
who lost his brother with the split of atoms
like storms breaking through to the clouds
like a mother’s arms spread wide enough

to capture his smiles in a bowl

but aint no rainbows today
cause grief
it convinces us that the world

has ceased existing
and molds its rotations to the contours of our hearts

Why are you sorry?!
screams the confused silence of my bones
or the unflinching expression of a man’s face

after a life-time of catastrophes
tainted love
chocking dreams

and memories like the scenic route to civil wars
& he wears it all

with a walk like a stone cold killer

and a face fit for poker
but his heart is pale with grief
I know
cause I heard it in his smile
he laughs
but only because his body weeps
too weak internally

to die physically too
so when he grieves
and when she grieves
when their pain is too deep

to find alongside the outline of their faces
too far to find within the pages of their past
but close enough to smell in the sorrow of their loss
in these bags
filled to the brim with all their stuff
what do you say
when the air isn’t pure enough to breathe
and a routine, “I’m sorry” is simply not enough
to convince them

that the world

still spins