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80—Where are we supposed to grieve, anyway?
I wasn’t sure about this poem. But nor was I sure where to take my grief.
When I wrote this poem, I was writing six poems a day. I was burning with feelings. My father was sick, and I had nothing to do except feel: rage, hurt, desperation, frustration, sadness, worry. And hope—also, hope. I wanted to hold on to the hope; it seemed friendly, but also fickle.
My father received a terminal diagnosis but then there he was: still alive. This created a dissonance in terms of what I was supposed to feel. And because his cancer was in the brain, and he (at first) had very few visible symptoms, the whole thing felt like a trick, a deception, a suspended sentence.
There was the threat of rain, but it did not rain. The clouds filled the sky, they blocked the sun, but that was it. My standby ticket was for a delayed flight. Nothing was canceled but nor was it firm. I stood around, uncertain. Waiting for shoes to drop.
I did what we often do when everything is tenuous and nothing makes sense: I sought distraction. One such outlet for that distraction was Facebook. But death followed me even there.
This poem. I disliked it at first. I disliked it for much of its existence Was it too cute? Too topical? Too judgemental? Too prosaic? Perhaps I disliked it because it’s about distraction. Or, more precisely, my inability to be adequately distracted. Or about how I went to escape and grief found me anyway. Or I disliked it because I’m wary of poetry that’s trying to say something even if that something feels necessary to say.
Maybe the whole question is less relevant now that Facebook is irrelevant. But I think it speaks to a larger issue: What are we supposed to do with our grief? How are we meant to mourn? What is our modern way of pulling close those who know us, and love us – and how do we ask them to help carry some of our hurt when we don’t want to carry it all ourselves?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s not on Facebook. But where then?
A Substack newsletter?
Either way, here’s the poem.