I'm going to apologize right up front for the following blog post as it will not be exactly full of good holiday cheer but my father-in-law died a few days ago so I'm thinking about people's reactions to death--how we cry or don't cry, become angry or tense--not tense exactly but that obvious loss of control and the effort we make to regain control of our life spinning out before us with our own death one thread whipping outward and then curling in toward us and that feeling of being spun by something unseen and mostly unfelt, except times like this. Our whole being concentrating on reaching out to steady ourselves, to grab hold of that thread but...
--But I think this is when a death is closer to you, crushes you harder than others around you and you're shattered trying to hold some semblance of self together because other people are able to but there's this hole this fragile sharp hole that's continually and quietly fragmenting splintering and it's hard to catch your breath really but breath is all you can think about because right now you ARE breathing and someone else isn't and how is that possible when just minutes ago they were? And how will it be for you? That one last breath, filling your body for one last time, feeling your self your insides known and not known that emptying out beginning, and how long will it take to end?
A History of Mourning
It's odd that evening is so speckled with grief.
Birds start singing when the branch reddens.
But we write our poems when the sun goes down.
Our ancestors knew how to cry at death; but they
Had enough to do finding big stones to cover
The dead, and begetting new souls to replace them.
We slept on the limestone plains, and woke
Night after night, tracing the route the dead take
Through holes in limestone and on into the stars.
Some hands outlined with blown powder
On the walls of the cave have missing fingers.
We drew maps of the night sky in the dust.
How slowly it all went! One day a woman wept
When she saw a bone reddened with ochre.
A thousand years later, we put a bead in a grave.
Some graves stand among woods. We still don't
Understand why a pine coffin is so beautiful.
We are still brooding over why the sun rises.