It is a gift, this grief

Day 143

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez


Like a snake, twisted around my insides,

organs and bones,


and heart.

I was hoping that paying attention,

and letting it in,

would end it somehow,

set me free from an ancient sadness that I carry like a weight.

I was hoping that if I stopped avoiding it,

fed it, and gave it what it needs,

it would curl up

small and sweet,

or lay down and die,


But it’s not.

This grief stays,

hungry and poised,

growing all the time,


I heard they want to mine the moon. That the pacific ocean is radioactive and that California is being swallowed up by drought. That Bison who leave Yellowstone are shot on sight.

Sometimes when I nurse my perfect, small son,

I’m afraid my grief is flowing right into him,

along with my breast milk.

A deep sadness,

borne of many mistakes,

millennia of madness.

My heart is broken in a thousand different ways.

But once we found a cat bone.

1 bone, from the leg of a feral cat,

amidst the skeleton strewn around by


Broken once,


set in  an awkward angle,

with a thick sheath of bone around the break,

a ring of mending,

to hold it all together.


A bone made stronger by a break.

And I think my heart too,

must be this way.

made stronger by each break,

each loss,

each extinction.

Every sorrow,

every slicing sadness,

requiring reinforcement.

Tissue and cells,

compassion, empathy and love

that weren’t there before.

With each break,

my heart grows stronger,

beats harder.

Criss-crossed with scars,

reminders of all those who’ve left their mark.

And maybe that’s what mourning does.

Tears you down,

so you can build back up again,

strong enough to go on,

fighting for those you have lost.

It is a gift,

this grief.


so that I might lay next to my small son,

and my husband,

so much the same in sleep, soft,

And be happy.

Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen


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