Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about loss. When we lose someone to death it is often a slow, loud, tragic wrenching loss. But one we can begin to understand.

We don't always talk about the other kinds of losses; the quiet drawn out losses that come because of geography, growing, leaving, loving... the losses that come because your lives go in different directions and the things that were important become... replaced. By other things that are important.

I'm not very good with loss. The way I pack suitcases and boxes and move from coast to continent, you'd think I'd be better at it. I never seem to get better. And the saddest losses are inexplicable. We grow up. We need different things. We move. We gain. We lose.

I'm sad. But it's in a reflective way. Loss is part of it all. Part of the lives we live and the people we become.

GRIEF by Matthew Dickman

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what's left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she's coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don't ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I've been,
taking down the pictures of my family,
not writing, refusing to shower,
staring too hard at girls younger than my sister.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? She says,
reading the name out loud, slowly
so I am aware of each syllable,
each consonant resembling a swollen arm, the collapsed ear,
a mouth full of teeth, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person's body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

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