“The night I lost you
someone pointed me towards
the Five Stages of Grief
Go that way, they said,
it’s easy, like learning to climb
stairs after the amputation.
And so I climbed …
After a year I am still climbing, though my feet slip
on your stone face.
has long since disappeared;
green is a color
I have forgotten.
But now I see what I am climbing
written in capital letters,
a special headline: Acceptance
its name is in lights.
I struggle on,
waving and shouting.
Below, my whole life spreads its surf,
all the landscapes I’ve ever known
or dreamed of. Below
a fish jumps: the pulse
in your neck. Acceptance. I finally
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircase.
I have lost you.”—Linda Pastan, from “The Five Stages of Grief” (via growing-orbits)
n. a relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
This is a word we use to plug holes with. It’s the right size for those warm blanks in speech, for those red heart- shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing like real hearts. Add lace and you can sell it. We insert it also in the one empty space on the printed form that comes with no instructions. There are whole magazines with not much in them but the word love, you can rub it all over your body and you can cook with it too. How do we know it isn’t what goes on at the cool debaucheries of slugs under damp pieces of cardboard? As for the weed- seedlings nosing their tough snouts up among the lettuces, they shout it. Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising their glittering knives in salute.
Then there’s the two of us. This word is far too short for us, it has only four letters, too sparse to fill those deep bare vacuums between the stars that press on us with their deafness. It’s not love we don’t wish to fall into, but that fear. this word is not enough but it will have to do. It’s a single vowel in this metallic silence, a mouth that says O again and again in wonder and pain, a breath, a finger grip on a cliffside. You can hold on or let go.