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Grief Three Ways

part I

A flash of red streaks across my chest,
creeps up my porcelain neck, and spreads
like a heat wave across my cheeks, coming
home to rest in the lobes of my ears.
I am aflame. Outside the night breathes in
the scent of rain and exhales the tears
I've been holding in my lashes.

Sparse walls and metal-armed chairs
sit six inches apart laughing at the lack
of social for them to distance. I am alone.
Casual sets of scrubs move about
at a leisurely pace, talking plainly
about the strange man who entered
and then left
and then entered again.

I wonder how they can be laughing
and then I remember, they aren't here
for the same sad departure that I am.

This is their job.

part II

So many signs in this small space,
plastered to walls, placed on stands
to greet those who enter and warn them
of the rules, of the side effects of sickness.

A door keeps opening somewhere,
but no one new emerges. I am kept company
by muffled voices and nighttime radio
programming that I can't quite make out.

Only the different sounds that separate
commercials from the adult contemporary,
soft rock trying to soothe me without
allowing me to sing along.

Take me away/to better days/a hiding place
I begin to fear the condition
of the fragile heart I sent walking
alone through those heavy doors.

The women on the other side
of those doors birthed him, raised him
up into the man I've known to be so
sweetly broken, and yet…

He, I, they have no idea
the condition of his aching,
of his grieving. Always waiting
for that other shoe to drop.

part III

Our path here was interrupted briefly by a wild fox,
courted by a porch light that couldn't be bothered
to offer steady illumination. It flickered and faltered,
unlike the swift fox who carried on with his night
as though we hadn't met.

Omens. Signs.
Either could be both.

They could just be existing exactly as they would have
had I never crossed them. God, my throat is dry.
I dislike these places. Their sterile smells
florescent lighting that buzz, buzz, buzzes
like an insect unable to be swatted.

My eyes cross briefly and at the end of my gaze,
I swear I can see swastikas in the fabric pattern
on the chair across from me.

Maybe they're windows,
the kind children draw on
two dimensional houses.

I feel the flames lapping at my neck again,
the only color in the room to break up the sea
of muted browns and grays
the very same colors I chose
to wrap myself in before this trip.

How much time has passed since we arrived?
I've lost track of myself, of human constructs

that I've so carefully built my life upon.
The rise-and-fall of my chest tries to comfort me.

Am I still breathing?
Is this grief?
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Submitted by darqjuliet on March 14, 2023

Modified on April 24, 2023

2:58 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme xxaxxbc bxxdefxg axx x hxxx xeid xedx hxax xxij xaax xffxj xx xxxcx kxe lmx geklx xx me aNxN
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,742
Words 584
Stanzas 19
Stanza Lengths 7, 8, 3, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 2, 5, 3, 3, 5, 2, 2, 4

Discuss the poem "Grief Three Ways" with the community...

1 Comment
  • dougb.19255
    The sterile buzzing atmosphere of Hospital. Beloved behind some swinging doors. And then dead. Puzzling grief is setting in. Thoughts come that make the Sufferer doubt sanity. Let those thoughts roll over you. A normal part of the grieving process…Wayne Blair 
    LikeReply2 months ago


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"Grief Three Ways" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 8 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/154114/grief-three-ways>.

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