An Anatomy of Grief

I could begin with a broken fingernail.
And sketch the lines towards my heart along the twisting bones and flesh grooved in fishbone patterns, like the mapping of tiny streams flowing towards a sea. Always flowing –
along the knotty veins that rise above the surface, in vulnerable, bruised smudges of charcoal.

The details are sharp, and the shading gives depth and yet, as always, the form of the whole is lost along the way.

Who said that we lose our loves little by little, then all at once? No. I am misremembering and conflating. John Green wrote of falling in love slowly, then all at once. And then someone else wrote of losing their money little by little, then all at once.

Does it matter? I suppose it is our resistance to change that makes the it seem true for so much of our lives.

But I lose at once, and then little by little.
I’ve walked backwards through my life: old before young, guilty before innocent, fragmented before whole.

How will I die, then?

A life drawing instructor told me my problem wasn’t with the details, but with the form as a whole.
A perfect ear.
An expressive curve of an exposed shoulder.
A sensually carved ankel.
An exquisite corpse of entrances and exits like divas jostling for center stage.
An exquisite corpse does not breathe: “Get it together, girl.”

But this long echo of a swansong:
I’m still trying to piece it together: to get it down in diagramed sentences.
“I’ve always loved diagramming sentences.”
Dissecting thoughts.
Making them real.

It makes them comprehensible for a tender bit of heart
muscle that already accepts that everything falls
to pieces, then gathers like so many fishbones
and flows to the sea.

4 Replies to “An Anatomy of Grief”

  1. I love your relationship with language. Imprecise as words are to experience, yet it is the human quality that marks who we are and I appreciate. Language points toward what we cannot say and you do that with a passionate grace. Fishbones and all.


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