you sheltered the flame
so she could pattern the night
now the sun shines through
and pierces your dark centre
while the flame sleeps
the beauty that lies in the imperfect the damaged, the broken unintentional beauty set the shadows to music what would be the tune?
small songs between breaths painted by light sung in the silence voices of star-stuff whispering
the beginning of a series of small verses inspired by the photographic prompts from 52Frames
I’ve been questioning whether to post this. But this poem, these words, helped me get through some of the most difficult days last year. They helped me stand and claim my place, they gave me hope, and helped me honour one of the most important people in my life. I’m thankful for everything I’ve learnt during all the writing I’ve done over the last few years. It gave me the ability to compose something meaningful, expressive and true to myself.
My father died in August last year. I wrote this the day after, writing into the depth of night until it was finished.
I wanted to say something at his funeral, but had so little time to prepare. So I drew from a couple of earlier pieces just to get started, then continued to create something new and special just for him.
When it came time to read it at the funeral the next day, I shifted from feeling nervous, to feeling strangely calm and almost confident. I could feel the silence in the room, the quiet attention. It was afterwards when the hearse drove away that I felt that falling feeling, the sense that you could collapse onto your knees and wail. Perhaps if I was somewhere else on my own, I would have done just that, pressed my hands down flat and keened into the earth. But the concrete entrance to the funeral home wasn’t the right place.
I keep having this sense that there is some symbolic ritual that needs to take place. I don’t know what it is, and it hasn’t happened yet. I thought there might be a sign, something that would suggest what I need to do. Perhaps a dream, but in fact, I lost the ability to dream for months. They’re back now, but he hasn’t appeared.
I’m thinking that I need to stop waiting for a sign. He came to me once, many years ago, and I treasure the fact that he re-entered my life. Perhaps this time, I need to come to him, find him somewhere in the bush, in a river, in a garden. I’ll speak to him and thank him for his love. Perhaps then he will visit in a dream, perhaps he needs to feel invited.
I’ve heard it said that grief has stages
that it’s a process
my grief is a list
my grief is a blow to the chest, standing breathless in a doorway
an hour late
a strange smell
too few seats
my grief is an abandoned garden, earth cleared ready for planting
no hand to dig
gifts to the soil
my grief is a dark room, eyes open staring into the night
an empty cup
a silent promise
my grief is a heavy cloak, a conflicted weave of threads
a weight I drag behind me
a burden I cling to
my grief is hungry
it eats my sleep
it eats my dreams
it asks too much
my grief is a second blow, standing barefoot in the driveway
a familiar voice, unfamiliar confusion
my grief is sympathetic, falling into old habits
searching for an open a door
an open hand
my grief is a locked box, the key long gone
my grief is a lesson
in patience and trust
learning to wait
to give my mind time to adjust and make new connections
to give my heart time to accept the loss
to become used to this new truth
my grief is fickle
it will begin to lose interest
it will stop paying attention
it won’t notice when I look the other way
it will start hunting elsewhere to be entertained
and when it does
I will leave the house
stand in the rain
lost birds settle on my shoulders
when I go inside
I see what grief has left for me on the table