How to Grieve

Maria’s death is a quiet tantrum dancing between my teeth.
I see her visage dissolving, as if the finale of a film montage,
the last frame in a series of fading smiles and waves.

My chest heaves for each memory she missed making,
throat chokes for her mother, who will lie awake tonight
in a black bedroom, chanting what if, what if, what if.

I did not reach for my lover when he heard.
We lingered on the bed as if it were a raft, he gazing at
the duvet as I listened to my ribcage shattering under pressure.

How awful that we have the ability to choose between living
and dying, between wounding ourselves
and wounding others.

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