Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm

SEE ALSO: TRYING TO HOLD A BOX OF LIGHT (photos, realistic to abstract)

Monday, April 10, 2006

On Death and Grieving (With Poems)

Before I go all dour and intense on you, I'd like to say I have been feeling like that proverbital "kid in a candy store" since starting this blog. It's such a treat to allow myself to be so focussed totally on my own writing and thoughts (as opposed to six years of work on my website which now has over 100 authors' and artists' works). Yes, what a sweet treat!

On to more a more serious subject that's been up for me recently. Death has been one event in my life that I've had the least opportunity and/or encouragement to express myself concerning. I have always contended it is not what happens to us so much as how it is responded to by those closest to us. E.g., as can be deduced from the thirty year-old autobiographical poem below, I was not encouraged to share my thoughts or feelings after my mother died when I was 10. Largely out of my family's need to protect themselves from their own feelings. (I'm sure that I appeared to be coping was also a factor.) I'm not suggesting the adults back then could have done any different, but I know it would have been better for me if they had been able to gently encourage me to talk about whatever was or was not going on for me.

grammaw never said it

grammaw never said it
i just knew mama was dead
daddy cried
i didn't
he said i was all he had left
and would hafta be
his big girl now

only thing i felt much
was how unhappy daddy was
but only on my outsides
inside i was like in a tunnel
all echoey and loud an' bright
like i was all eyes an' ears
and no heart

couldn't even cry at the funeral
cept the few tears
i squeezed out cause i felt
so bad 'bout not cryin
there were lotsa people touchin me
but i wasn't carin bout nobody
was sure i wasn't real
couldn't be
couldn't feel nothin

cept those last few minutes
daddy said
kiss her g'bye
you'll miss her more if you don't
it's just like she's sleeping

i knew she wasn't sleepin'
an' she didn't look real
i remembered her all tan
and red haired
like that time she let me
brush her long beautiful hair

we were on the porch
and her back was bare
an' still warm from the sun
'n her hair was like
the mane of a horse
in the very best story
i ever read

but she wasn't sleepin
and she was pale an' her hair
was awful white blonde
like i never liked it
like all the color ran outa her

then he kissed her
wet and long on the mouth
that made my stomach jump
but i kissed her

an' it was like pressin my mouth
on a chilly wall just like i usta
late at night in bed
when i was a real little kid
'n no one came to hold me
when i was cryin
and the cool usta feel read good
on my face and hands
an' specially my mouth

This pattern of grieving entirely alone has continued throughout my life, with the exception of collective grieving post the Twin Towers disaster of 9/11. I have at least come to the point where I no longeer blame others in my past or present life, and recognize what I bring to this on-going pattern. (There's a book I've recently re-read that blew my mind this time around with its pointed and painful relevance to how I deal with all "issues" in my life. It's "The Scapegoat Complex: Toward A Mythology of Shadow & Guilt," by Sylvia Brinton Perera, author of "Descent to the Goddess;" Inner City Books, Toronto, Canada; 1986; ISBN 0-919123-22-8.)

On Mourning

No blame possible now
we all did the best we could
as our lives careened along the twisted path

No more shame left to collide with
on this suddenly hollow
and harrowing descent

And regrets? Only small eddies
in the swift plunge into this hot
and swampy country of mourning

Mourning for the possibilities born in that child
that could not bloom, the earth of her heart
cemented over by fears she had denied
in order to survive in a crush of wounded deniers

And yet there is about this swamp of mourning
something that buoys, something that holds her
as she has never been held before,
totally and with no demand of its own,
that gives back a sense of the shape of her life

This swamp of mourning that suspends her,
an aged chrysalis daring the wait
for whatever future it has left
in which to open

This next was written on the second anniversary of the Twin Towers disaster of 9/11. (It's a haibun -- a prose introduction with a capping haiku.) The recent public release of the 911 emergency telephone call tapes has made it clear to me how healing is an on-going process, on both a personal and collective level. For all the inner work I have done with grief and loss, both personal and collective, I found myself surprised at the pain these tapes released in me. How much more so it must be for those who lost loved ones on that day.

9-11-03 -- 8:25 a.m. – On my way to where I am currently working, only a few blocks from Ground Zero (World Trade Center), I note the atmosphere is even more subdued than usual. At 14th Street the subway car fills with firemen in their dress blues, hats and shiny black shoes, headed to the memorial service. Two stand next to me and start to talk in a quiet manner about having been to the firehouses near Ground Zero, naming who is no longer there. I cannot keep tears from welling in my eyes as I glance up, accidentally meeting the gaze of the taller of the two. He notices the little lapel pin I am wearing with the Twin Towers on it:

talk of that day:
the fireman tips his hat
to my tears

And lastly, I offer this to anyone who grieves (whether over the death of a loved one, or some other crucial loss):


I do not know where your grief walks,
perhaps through an icy fog
across a long forgotten field,
or dives, perhaps through a winter sky,
dodging acute arrows of sympathy.

But I do know this bright beaked bird
can speed through your blood
leaving hollows in its wake
to be filled into healing stillness
by a slow seeping

May we all find the healing we need.

'til next time, keep dreaming,


* * * *If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me -- it's under "View my complete profile" -- for permission.


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