April 07, 2017

Costume Jewelry

by me

You once said I wore grief like costume jewelry,
wrapped myself in it like the              drape
                                                                             and sweep
of a cheap
dress. I think the word
you were looking for is
                                       “gaudy.” And
maybe I have exalted grief, maybe
sorrow            swaddles
                                         me. Once I held
the knotted arthritic hand of a dying
woman, drowning
in her own lungs; once stood
dumb before a dear friend’s
mother after that friend
                                             hanged       herself;
thrice swallowed voice and terror
when shouting men followed me         
                                                         for blocks
in the dark. How many friends
have written goodbye letters, and how
many didn’t bother with goodbyes at all;
the countless ways gin
goes down
                         smoother than empty silence; how many
apologies I made for the ambit of my body,
for the chasm under my tongue, for how
urgently I constructed homes inside others when
they had issued me no invitation, and
how many times I should have known better.

Maybe you were right. Grief garments
me, that ancient weave. But you must
forgive me. I can only wear the clothes
                                                                 I am given.


Rajeev Singh said...
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Rajeev Singh said...

So touching, as always, r.c.s. Your ability to weave a poetic fabric of your thoughts leaves me as dazzled as the garb of grief that the world has made you don from time to time.

I have questions, such as - who were those shouting men following you for blocks in the dark?