elegy in which the world is visible / invisible / or immanent inside a body

your father, greying now and shrinking,
swings the leaf blower out before him

and hurls the red tree’s leaves back into the garden
while your mother pulls weeds like failed lines

from a poem she will never finish. i want to ask her,
what is the name for grief when it is no longer grief?

did your parents plant the red tree the year you died?
or the year we cut down all the palms

that lined the street and cracked the concrete
as they fell. why do things like this persist?

when a mind has died what is the name
for the breaking of the world inside it?

my daughter – now five – runs by me,
all language (by which i mean the world)

is immanent inside her. if you had lived,
what would you have said to her

as she curled herself against your ribs?
when i explain the world and what it was

before she was born,  she goes quiet
and disappears into her own gaze

as though watching her own ghost
walking through a room,

as though she sees a world
that never was.

Advice for grieving (palimpsest)

When you are done with this earth
or this earth perhaps is done with you
seek no grey extension
              of the claim you made to space

seek what truce you see most apt
          make parley with your gods

rage against the dying of the spark
    if such a rage seems fit
but know that dark will come no less
  for all your spit and clamour

when it comes, listen for the music,
for the note of      you       now hanging
soon to fade amidst the howled arrival songs
of all those yet to learn to walk
across the floor

                         on which you’ve


                                        exhale again

while you seek to see the narrowing of you
                  not for what it is
                  but for what it soon will be:

     the turning of a tide now soon to rise
                              beauty coming again
               wrestling you back to the earth
                              beauty coming again
                  clearing a space for the new

Advice for grieving (littoral)


find your broken self
                               at ocean’s edge,
as lonely as the earth,

pack light (again),
        dress warm for it will,
                  in your mythic letting go,
        be most apt to grieve in winter

 signify your grief through some
           well-worn cliche of place:
                       grey sky perhaps,
                                 grey sand,
                               grey waves,
                you alone in landscape

contemplate        some        grand
     though trite performative,
            perhaps a walk into the waves
     in a woolen coat to weight you,
 your leaden bones

                     or perhaps
                    haunted by            your albatross,
               think your love           another creaking ship
             dashed and torn            against the reef,
            a hull now holed            and gushing,
                                               swallowing the sea

       see all you’ve built
              now rendered as
        a     splintered     wreckage    washed    to    shore
                     and lost as flotsam in the shallows

or if, in attempt to end yourself,
                    you beg the sky to

                                                      it will
  as    you,    falling    brutally    to    pieces,
         weep your grief out to the grey,
            cast your salt at last to salt
               and make of your loss
                    a second sea.

Advice for Grieving (delta)

wreck image

to cross a river at its mouth
            is a great though necessary risk
best carried out alone

            when beginning      make    plans to
            cross, not at the water’s slack
                       but on the ebb,

             wear     broad     soled     shoes
             pack     light       (if at all)
             carry hydrophobic metaphors
             in       mind

consider hollowing your bones
            stuck and stranded
as a whale among the mangroves,
            you flounder in your grief,
all slapping tail and
                           slumping lungs,

and keep in mind
you won’t have failed at all if you,
            weighted with your rocks,
sink in mud up to your knees,
            lose a sturdy pair of boots and fall
face down into the silt
            of this,
                                         your best attempt
at fording through your loneliness.