Another Fine Day

I dreamed of horses again,
my mare and her baby
and I, combing out her
chestnut forelock as she
lifted her head and the
wind caught her mane
in a way I thought (in my
dream) how beautiful.

When I awoke I counted
how old she would be if
the riding accident had not
happened. I still see an
animal with a large hole
in its side, letting me lead
her by leather bridle away
from pavement to grass
where we shot her, many
people gathered around.

I am seated on the back of an
ambulance when comes the
shot. Afterward, I kneel at
her shoulder not far from
the foot-wide gaping hole
from where intestines had
spilled ten hands in length
onto the pavement after I
rode into a pole sticking
three feet above ground.

That type of mourning,
it does not matter who sees;
they should, as a form of
penance. We removed her
English tack and men took
her away on a truck bed.
Born St. Patrick’s Day, she
would be twenty-six now.

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As the Dog Sleeps

There have been several dreams, most a form of wish fulfillment, even that in which I walked across the room to hold him and found a skeleton under his clothes. The physicality of this I still feel when awake. It is no unforgettable sensation, wrapping your arms around bones.

In waking life I have spent half a lifetime holding men who needed to be held, but I cannot save him now, nor could I ever.

Some years later the dreams arrive less frequently, but after their return last night I wonder how the sleeping brain can recall a person’s smallest mannerisms and micro expressions. To forget would be lovely.

Furthermore, until I woke this morning I did not know that I was still angry. At who? This is what I have sat upon all day.

This morning, in the still-dim dawn I found that the Aloneness I have worked so hard to keep at bay had returned. Early filtered light silhouetted the room, revealing all the possessions that we as humans collect to make our lives comfortable–to feel safe and significant–but even then I began my Sunday weeping, loudly, into my pillow. The dog slept in the corner and the sun continued to rise and time passed as time does.

Must we feel what needs to be felt for grief to work itself out of us? Reluctantly, yes. Not one of us differs in this way and if nothing else there is solace in that.

I write this the same day as the morning it happened and will feel silly for such melancholic contemplation once it is Monday and I am again reading the news and stirring my coffee.

Yes, to forget would be lovely – but while we are wishing that something never happened we can also stay actively hopeful, because this remains a constant: life unfolds and time passes and the dog sleeps and the sun rises and a sliver of the mind says there are new memories to be made.

(written Easter Sunday 2019 after a bad dream)

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Two Swans

The days shorten, the nights arrive sooner now. I find myself dreaming about what it might be like to see him again. I would walk into the room and from a distance we would lock eyes, approach each other, I might press my face into his neck as he did the same, two swans bowing into one another in recognition, in a ceremony of forgiveness of past transgressions. His and mine.

In my dream he is a picture of health, of athleticism – the way I remember him during our early days. In my dream he has been off drugs for several years now, has struggled to find his way back but has finally made a life for himself. A life I can return to and immerse myself in.

“Where have you been?” he asks, as if I am the one who left so many years ago, but the gentleness in his tone acknowledges he had been absent long before I pushed myself from the couch that last night.

“I’m here now.”

My limbs are around his shoulders, my fingers graze the hair at the nape of his neck.

“I’ve missed you.” It is all I can say.

In this thick, tangible closeness there is no kiss, there are no undertones as in so many other dreams, but there is the simple, loving bowing into one another. As I move to rest my forehead against his shoulder I remember that the warmth on my face is not another human, but a cotton pillowcase in a floral pattern of beige and white. It is my own breath, my own skin, against my own bedding. He is dead.

He has been dead now for three weeks.

***

I dreamed once more: of being horseback, of loping across uncut fields, deep green at the start of spring, grasses pushed in rhythmic waves by the wind. The horse rocks in even stride, the rider in perfect balance, the pleasure of movement that in waking life comes only rarely. Perhaps like coasting downhill on a bicycle as a child.

When I awoke I wanted to be a child again.

(Summer 2016)

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The Burial

One year after his death, palpably
and more quietly that when it first began
I continued to grieve in many ways.

One way: sharing a note I wrote for him.
Later, having lunch in a restaurant booth
a friend brought this up, and to my surprise

chose “emo” to describe what I’d put online,
and to tell me who I was. Who she was not.
She smiled. She almost laughed.

What do we do in the moments when
it does not seem possible to be less understood.
What do we say to mockery’s cruel face?

Ha, yeah.

Of all the conceivable responses: Ha, yeah.
Maybe he had died one year ago, but on that day
I buried him and somehow also buried myself.

(October 28, 2018)

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Into the Night

Who knows the time?
I need no numbers to tell me
here is another sunset:
the back side of God
turning to watch the waking,
an orange glow evoking
the warmth one feels when
the sun says, you are chosen.

Once, in the light of day
I had driven along the lake
and thought to myself,
isn’t life perfect.

Keepsakes and cards
letter and notes, but
who can read in the dark?
My agnostic soul is praying
for a candle, a flame
a nightlight, anything
to bring back his light.

(first written in 2009)

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