Grief

 

Perhaps there is a way this

can be said:

the raw courage of trees

as they stand and shed their finery

 

the sap sluggish and thick

the way the my blood is

sitting before the fire and making

 

yet another attempt to shake off

my grief, as if leaves falling

to dulled earth

were in any way the same as my heart

 

broken into pieces too small

to count, as if winter skies could

care about my tears.

 

I can no longer pretend that I believe

it is rhythm of life to shed, to discard, to let go. After all, it was the sun

 

that enticed me here.

I had not thought of winter

except as crisp flakes

caught on the tongue

 

or snow angels cast indiscriminately

onto fat white snow banks.

I did not know that after the mourning

 

there could be joy and after the joy

a melancholy so deep I cannot shake it off with wine or dreaming. The hard rippled bark

 

under my fingers is not the same

as the flayed skin of my heart.

It is only a reminder that I live on

 

growing another ring and eager to hear

the songs of all the birds denied to me

while I nursed my broken wings.

 

—© Wendy Brown-Báez 

Gratitude

 

I want to remember that I was hungry so that I never forget to say thank you over a meal, an orange, a sliced cucumber, just picked strawberries from the garden, a gift of Christmas cookies.

 

I want to remember that I was confused and lost and yet I found my way. I learned to ask for help. I learned that I am not alone. Let me never forget that where I belong is exactly where I am.

 

I want to remember that I was cold so I will bless the sun, the heat, the hot water, hot pad, blankets on a bed, a shawl around my shoulder.

 

I want to remember that I was exhausted and let my body stretch and release into shavasana while my breath rose and fell in a rhythm of contentment.

 

I want to remember that the grief threatened to carry me over the edge. I could not unfold my wings scorched from the burning of my child’s body into ash. The edge between madness and the ability to carry on, the dance between oblivion and love, feeling that one more day in such pain was impossible. And yet I walked step by step and took one more breath while my wings were repaired by the loving hands of friends and angels and my own determined self.

 

I want to remember that I was terrified and did it anyway. That I was angry and choose words instead of a fist. That I was betrayed and learned forgiveness. That I was a stranger and found home wherever I could light a candle, say a prayer, learn a name.

 

I want to remember that I stood in darkness in order to adore the light, I stood in silence in order to find my voice.

 

I want to remember my tears and the way they brought me salt.

 

—© Wendy Brown-Báez