Last year, my parents, my brother, and my old cat passed away over a four month period, and grief seeped into my life deeper than I ever expected. Today is a year since my mom passed away, and when I was very young, she bound a paper booklet of my poems for Christmas. My writing from last year is more raw and unpolished that I usually post, but it feels right to share it today. And I hope if you are grieving, it will help ease your sense of loss or isolation.
I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY GRIEF
by Victoria Nations
This stray keeps hanging around, uninvited.
I’ve tried for weeks to ignore it.
Lumpy thing, dropped on my doorstep.
I’ve tried pushing it off the stoop, and it won’t budge.
It just lays there.
Ignoring it makes it whine, keening until I’m forced to acknowledge it.
Then it just rolls over, boneless, daring me to move it.
If I could get my arms around it, I’d heave it up and toss it over the side.
The longer it lays there, the more it spreads.
Slumping over when I try to scoop it up,
prop it up into some sort of shape.
When I push harder, it just oozes between my fingers.
It’s so stubborn.
I don’t know what to do with the damned thing,
this misshapen waif with sad eyes and thick body,
melting like a tar baby, and just as tricky.
Every morning and night, I have to face this thing.
It wants into the house. It wants to ride in the car.
I’m ready to throw up my hands at the sticky mess.
It wants to spill all over everything.
And I’m tired of trying to make it do something.
Or just leave.
Orphan eyes stare from its drooped head,
and track me when it’s rolled over to face the sky.
Its gaze smolders. And I keeping thinking
when I try to lift it, it will be too hot to touch.
My skin will burn with
painful welts that everyone can see.
And I won’t have to explain anymore
why my eyes tear up when I come close to it.
When I think about it.
But the wretch is lukewarm at best, just a bland pudding
that’s impossible to mold and repugnant to touch.
I can barely stand it, but perhaps letting it spread is best.
It can seep into the ground,
or harden so I can pry it up,
chip it off in crumbled bits.
Working it just glues my fingers together,
clumps clinging to my hands,
weighing down my arms so it’s a struggle to lift them.
And the poor thing is still as deformed and ugly as when I started.
I want to gather it up in my arms and form it
until it creates a great sculpture.
I want to fire it hot until it has a glassy sheen,
and glaze it with color. Though I’d be just as happy
if it cracks and breaks in the heat
so I can sweep it up and throw it out.
So I can brush my hands off, free of this mess.