In Anticipation of Grief
When you know it is coming—if it is a too-warm spring—
cling to clichés, let hope rise with equinox, and bear
out pregnant barrenness. Lie to the kids. Better cool ignorance
than truth’s spark on tinder: controlled burn, not wild fire.
You’ll need their enthusiasm for new seasons. Turn, turn, turn,
until dizzy from your spin on what they suspect is death,
but you cast as simple absence. Do not measure moments
in last times. You risk your spirit counting this way. Celebrate
all rites that come before the end, but when you can, slip away
to the room you call your own, and weep until you understand
why not even all this love can stop it.
They aren’t difficult to find, congregated in packs most evenings
near water holes. But I want those still undiscovered. Once immersed
in their habitat, I sense my prey through electricity, tiny shocks
up my nape for a second or less. My attention drawn, I begin precise
observations: it is it looking for its mate, warning others, or
about my intrusion? The poem does not know I want it and with no
threat, does what poems do: feeds, bathes, tends to offspring. I
notes. How does it move? How does it negotiate complex terrain?
Express affection? And when it is quiet, I approach—quick to
it before it flees. I promise generosity, an open expanse
of wonder. It is not without peril, but I offer protection from
Yes, it is easy to catch a poem. But after many successes I wonder,
am I the hunter at all? Perhaps poems stalk me, crouch in
shadows and strike—
then convince me it was all my idea while they feast on my heart.
In case there are not five stages of grief but just one and in case
she—grief I mean—is a yellow and black garden spider, hungry,
wanting me warm, heart full, blood rushing with the loss I knew
would come but could do nothing to stop. In case denial leads me
straight to her web and caught my struggle leaves me more and more
entangled until she finds me, just off center, stuck fast among the
of sun-struck dew. In case she wraps me tight for what comes next,
sinks fangs into my tender flesh, drains every ounce of what enabled
me to thrive. In case you find me hollow, left to scatter with thin
after her abandonment—remember, I was not always like this.
Damn street lamp attempt to betray my
bewilderment with falling stars. Fogged
phosphorescence belies meteor burn across
my horizon. I bemoan my current residence
before each astronomical event, find
myself bemused with city dwelling. I am
beholden to night skies above my childhood
backyard because those summer dusks,
dawns, and betweens foretold these stolen
breaths atop this hill lush with bee-kissed wild
as sun sinks behind us, sets that city afire,
and we long to be in that mysterious
dark that rises as we become
Next Year, Only Plastic Eggs
We found the blue egg! She squeaks surprise
at the top of the basement stairs, sees the path
of hardboiled colors Don’t step on the red one Dada!
He snakes around the familiar trail, backward, camcorder
in hand. I hold her hands, temper her desire to climb
with eggs close to her chest. She follows the path,
There’s a green one! There’s an orange one! until she
the meager, last-minute basket. Her moment of breathlessness
makes it glorious. Three chocolates, a small stuffed tiger,
even yellow plastic grass enthralls her. All the eggs go in.
She insists on them in bed when she naps. Later, as she kisses
them goodnight, I smile, unsure the promise of school
friends will be enough to sooth the loss she’ll wake to.
Copyright © Jenn Monroe 2013
Jenn Monroe is
the author of Something More Like Love (2012,
Finishing Line Press), executive producer of Extract(s):
Daily Dose of Lit and executive editor of Eastern Point
Press. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in a
number of journals, most recently, The Meadowland Review.