“Five Stages of Grieving” by ellen



grief sits you down on your ass like a boulder
—Gordon Masman

The belief-river rushes around her muddy and sloppy.
She twists and buffets like a cherished stuffed-bear
torn from a child’s grasp and thrown in.
He has died in war. She never doubted his death.
No fantasy could place his skin next to hers,
no illusion grow his curly hair,
no phantom restore his stone-still body.
Grief hurls wet and stunning.
Sleep all day. Sleep all night.

Stubborn, she won’t yearn for his frozen face.
Death happens to everyone. She discards his watch,
gets papers in order and signed.
The boulder Earth still spins no matter what.
She doesn’t dwell on regret.
Says goodbye quietly.
Ice has its allure. Winter protects her.

Docile and melted. She contradicts stages.
Stretches toward orphans and science.
Sharpens pencils.
Won’t let anger crack her.
She bursts through the rain,
finds unblemished wrists
and pale blue robin’s eggs.
She chews on ice-cubes. They hurt her teeth.

She puts on false eyelashes.
Buys sexy dresses. Swallows new-tasting semen.
Looks for flaws in all the faces.
She crushes rainbows.
Her desire to pray flies beyond the horizon.
She finally gets a Ph.D.
Flawless and bookish
she fools her new men.

She goes political. Carries placards.
Listens to progressive talk-radio, stays close to home.
Cries during passionate speeches.
Always on, like a humming machine,
she lives patient and trembling.
She’s drenched rough, tumbling past debris—
torn petals, bug parts, twigs like distorted stinging arms.
The river beats her as though she were guilty.

from Rattle #29, Summer 2008

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