QUESTION ON THE BLUFF

“Why do you think about death so much?” she said as we sat side by side on the bluff. I stared out at the ocean. She was right. All of my journals confirmed it, and when I was a tween, I played melancholy piano records while imagining myself saying long, drawn-out goodbyes to family members in coffins.

The tears I cried then came from a deep place—somewhere in me that knew the sorrow of parting with someone who had sewn their own patch onto my quilted heart. The faux funerals one day morphed into cryptic poetry, then songs that like a thumbtack pricked my uncle to his feet to ask me why everything I wrote was “so sad.”

For some reason, I felt the sad more than any other emotion. When I looked out at the horizon, that something we can’t see with our eyes that calls from a place we can’t yet go—a place not unfamiliar but still far from what we know—would remind me that everything was temporary.

I grew up knowing that loss digs trenches through hearts, that tears are the only logical response to that kind of pain, and that we feel helpless in the face of it, because we are.


GRIEF

There are some things that we have not shared with another
The things that make different, us one from the other
They boiled our blood, they changed us within
So that never would we be back where we had been

There are images we cannot ever unsee
Where not just my pain made the breathing less free
But others broke too, and their grief did strike me
So that nothing the same, no not ever, would be