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Theresa Senato Edwards and Kate Belew

The Grieving Room

Stage 1

Legs rest on hassocks
in the grieving room
which is just a different
way of sitting in
denial     and morning
isn’t still enough
these doves are like rain
meaning to say
they react to heat and cold
flowers amid graves
but god I do love
daisies because listen
they don't discriminate
petals wilted     or strong
and I know what it means
to worship the sun like
no other star
its heat like grief or
something about to burn out
the heart’s shock

Stage 2

Wood easel hangs mid-air
in the grieving room
which is held by the same
nails that hold up anything
I know there's no canvas
yet     When there is I'll need
paint and lots of it
and the wild of some unseemly
guilt for saying too much when
what I should've done I couldn't
but there are no excuses to be had
each one a different kind of iris
damaged by the pain of an
unexpected frost     the weight
is heavy and heavier than whatever
blooms in darkness
its body fetal like grief or
a bird. Listen. Wings taught me
that almost everything knows
not to hide in clouds.

Stage 3

My fists distress floorboards
in the grieving room, not sure
how to respond most days
I feel as if I am just wading
in the muck of a grand earth
that refuses to remember
and I understand this. What
with the casualty of every life,
the sorrow in bargaining,
I am familiar now. How these
landmarks anger me into promises
I have no business promising.
And so here we are anyways.
A 3am storm of sorts.
I might just punch the floor
until I can’t anymore.

Stage 4

I sense the weight mirrored
in this grieving room       long
the way that water falls
from gutters, growing
loss like fetid marigolds
drowning     empty
I have seen enough I tell
you. I have seen enough
reflection     its unrelenting
glare of memories     music
which is actually more like
a droning on, to say the world’s
a well of playing bagpipes
now because you’ve gone.

Stage 5

A slight calm adjusts the heartache
process in my grieving room
and so this is what air can do
I suppose. Now endless
ways to organize kitchen utensils,
list breathing methods to reduce
the heaviness of all this unspoken
loss. And it’s lifting, the room’s
ceiling transparent. I look or maybe
I don't look. These days my eyes
are a different kind of open.
These days, the world has a new
kind of wormhole, exotic matter
perfect enough to tunnel me away
from despair.

Stage 6

Then, there’s a rush of mania in my
grieving room before I reconstruct
sorrow into seeking. I function again
but maybe I’m blind to whatever
cracks there are in the floorboards.
I mean to say there is only so much paint
to command on a canvas and really
there’s no reason for a mind to work
again even at a stage when grief
should resolve. Isn’t there more
grief coming? An unimaginable
tidal pool of challenges, wavering
at every push and pull of rock-torn life?
So imagine the smoothness of a stone
the one that has navigated again
and always along a remarkable
surge in which it can offer us.

Stage 7

And will I ever leave my grieving
room, find a smooth opening
in a dense wall that has held
my heart in its massive but kind
claws? I imagine there is a different
space somewhere. One in which
the tragedies of illness, sorrows
of mortality birth the joys of daisies
waterfalls and a strange possibility
which was robbed back between
love and loss. And the earth heals
although still troubled, provides
insight to the brain’s inferno.
Which is heating and heated but
not burned beyond what the mind
can remember: sun without pain,
music without grief. What the heart
has learned beyond survival instinct.


"The Grieving Room" is part of the Pandemic Poems Project.

➥ Belew Bio

➥ Edwards Bio