23 November 2009

A new poem, as Fort Hood mourns its dead

I did not follow much of the coverage of the Fort Hood tragedy. Too much misinformation, too much speculation, too many conclusions jumped to, and too little insight into the full spectrum of very human conditions which contributed to it.

As Thanksgiving approaches, my thoughts turn to the survivors and loved-ones of those involved… and to everyone who was affected by it. Thanksgiving for me is as much about loss as it is about gratitude. It is a season when I am keenly reminded of those who are no longer around, those who have passed out of my life… places and things and aspects of my life which are now beyond my reach.

Perhaps it’s the proximity of Halloween and All Souls. Or perhaps it’s just the normal course of life. Who can say? But summer is over, autumn is giving way to winter, and the days grow shorter with each passing week. The loss of light, in itself, is a significant loss — even if there is promise of its return.

I have had my share of losses in this life, and there will always be empty seats at the tables where I sit during the holidays. We cannot love without losing, I believe. And we cannot gain without sacrificing first. Of course, some sacrifices are a hell of a lot more painful than others…

But enough of my prattle. For all those who have lost, and (like me) are reminded of it this time of year, this is for you.

Requiem for Healed Griefs

A week later, it is still HERE. No relief in sight.

A month later… WTF?! Three letters are about all one can muster.

A year later, one would imagine
it will all disperse like so many fall leaves after
several rainfalls
and a handful of hard frosts.
The shock, the guilt, the accusations un-
spoken, yet deeply felt, the fault, the fault… and more
faulty wires crossed between family members far-
flung to disparate lives, sparking
in the dessicated tinder of old hurts
unhealed, bursting
minor incidents into major-
league blow-outs… like a bobbled infield hit can so quickly
turn into a triple…

A year later — yes, all twelve months’ worth — one would
think, the hurt could lessen, the anguish
could fade, the jagged edges
of loss-loss-loss would soften. But


Two years after The Loss
That Dares Not Speak Its Name, one would think
it would be just a little bit easier to sit
in the same room as others
grieving. Some still taking it harder
than others. But


it is not enough time. Two years is twenty-four months, is
730 days (or 731 if a leap year happens), and that adds
up to over a million individual minutes of individual
That’s way
too many minutes to think about grieving.
Too much time to spend being it, as well.
We know that. We know — we think — better
than to let it get us down.
But loss is loss.
And I don’t care what folks say — time does not
heal all wounds.
Two years is not nearly enough to make
sense of much of anything.

Three years later, aren’t we all
feeling foolish and a little self-indulgent, still
smarting from time’s lash…
Those who grieve hard — still — cannot help but
wish their pain will last
as long as they breathe, the measure
of their anguish
being the measure of their devotion
to their long-lost loved one’s memory. To pry
their grieving grasp from around their treasured memories, to try
to talk them into trading tear-soaked-soggy sack-
cloth and ashes for a comfortable house dress… Well,
that would be
just plain cruel.

Four years after that terrible, terrible
weekend/week/evening/event, some
still ache as though it happened yesterday, and they
cannot help but
those who claim to have moved

and in the middle
the ones who can see
both sides…

they’re the ones who hurt either half
or twice
as much, depending
on the movements of the moon
and the configuration of the seasonal sunlight
on scenes once shared with the one
who’s passed.

Grief is not like an autumn leaf suc-
cumbing to persistent elements.
It is a season, in itself.

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