to process

to process the grief
sometimes i need to let my fingers
my eyes
do the talking, instead of my mouth
which fumbles for vocabulary and spills
out something i’m still not sure about

i need to water myself like a jade plant
and perk up, greener than before

i need to hold myself tightly
and never let go, trusting
that i will always be here

Snowy Morning/For Emily

The snow falling this morning reminds me of you
Tree limbs so crisp and the world is new

I sit at my window, watching the street
To reminisce and envision the next time we meet

My heart knows I likely won’t see you again
So my imagination must fill that void in

Are you building a snowman, or tunneling deep
To a whole different world where wild wolves sleep?

Are you sipping hot cocoa and playing a game
Of witches and fairies and dragons to tame?

Are you running through snowdrifts, wild and free
Knowing all of the good things you’ll be?

I sit at my window, not crying, not really
Recalling the serious times and the silly

Thinking back to our jokes, our games, and our smiles
The frustration and anger every once in a while

When you love someone, see, each memory sticks
So you carry them always in your bag of tricks

And when I start to miss you, I’ll think of those days
We acted like sloths creeping down the hallways

The students and teachers all looked so confused
When we said, “We’re just slothing around, how ‘bout you?”

I wish you goodbye as snow creates a fresh place
And hope wherever you are, you’re smiling and safe

Day 3

My broken heart aches on for you.
I see your face in all I do.
As I walk I sing the song
“You are My Sunshine”. You hum along.

I know you’re gone and you’re not here.
But your voice still whispers in my ear.
Hazel eyes from beneath lush lashes
stay vivid though each day still passes.

The tears I cry do not do justice
to the soft heart-wrenching rushes
of remembering you’re really gone.
I wonder if I can move on.

How is loss ever healed?
How did you live with pain so real?
You made it 29 years, my love.
So brave; I did not express that enough.


Your final minutes,
and I wasn’t there
to rub your back
and stroke your hair.

I miss your voice,
its gentle lilt,
I miss the world
that we built.

Where are you, love?
I am right here.
I hope at the end
you felt no fear.

Come find me, love,
in my dreams tonight.
I’ll breathe your name
’til morning light.

I’ll trace your name
in foggy breath
on windowpanes
’til nothing’s left.

Your final minutes,
and I wasn’t there.
I wish you’d known
how much I care.

Ashes to Ashes

Shepherd me, O God, he sings, white ponytail
slung back low on his head. Beyond my wants,
beyond my fears. From death into life.

Echoes fade out near the ceiling high above,
where silence alone is observing us.

The choir rises and falls, swells in unison
with bright button-up shirts so unlike ours.
We stand, we sit, yet we should kneel.
I do not remember if music played
when the Father began to cast incense about.

There was milky smoke billowing forth, like water
rushing swiftly to cover the polished wood.
Tracing a cross over and over and over.
I felt the saltwater fall fresh from my cheeks.

Ashes to ashes, dirt to dirt. Dust swept away
from the grave. Yellow roses and a wreath.
Maybe we squirmed in the padded seats meant to be comforting,
thinking of worms and soil and carbon degrading.

Maybe we thought of sharks’ teeth on the beach in summer.
Maybe we thought of both. Time is up. The crew stands by,
in coveralls, waiting for our parade to depart so they may
complete their work and get paid. Just another day,
digging ditches because no one knows what else to do.

And so we scramble into the cars that form a line.
Shaking off the dirt from our clothes because
we don’t want to be claimed just yet.
We leave, but we take this with us.

Now that you’re gone

There is life before death that no one sees except you.
You alone know every waking minute thinking, wanting, waiting.
Walking by the quiet waters.

I have never needed God much until I saw Death.
You knew God when you met Death, and this was your comfort.

I do not know if God is there.
I believe nature protects me, and will claim me when it is ready.
Suck me under the mossy earth.

I listen to your music now that you’re gone.
We read your journals and trace your words with heavy fingertips.
You wrote about love.

The Nights of White and Dark


Yellow and orange trees have given way to
so many brittle skeleton branches bowing down.

I can see my coffee breath steam out over the table,
dying near the vase of drying flowers.
Last night we had to pull on extra blankets,
because the pinprick stars danced above
in a way that relayed, Summer is gone.

So pull out your warmest overcoat and wrap your
body in scarves and gloves. The frost has come
to claim your skin. The snow will settle between
your eyelashes, the wind will spiral tight around your spine.

Prepare yourself for the nights of white and dark.
No thermometer can relate the chill that will slip
into your bones. So let it suck the marrow out, use you
up. Surrender yourself to the freeze, let it reduce you.

You will be paralyzed. You will not understand why.
Sink into the earth, beneath the icy crunch of dirt.
Death is part of life. This is only a change of season.