The People You Love Do Not Stay Dead
the problem with the people you love dying
is that they do not stay dead. here's a hand on
your lap in june. here's their head on
your shoulder in october. here's their
lips on your cheek before the night ends,
and here it is happening all at once.
the breaking and the mending at once,
the fury and the light at once.
when you speak it is not your voice you hear
but theirs, speaking the words they taught you.
say "please" and "thank you," again,
i dare you. your heart is in your mouth
and you chew it. your stomach burns
and you do not feed it. you read what
the stoics say about grief. what Kristeva
says about grief. but you don't really
care for ethical principles or Epictetus.
philosophy can't help you. there are spaces
on your body the shape of their hands.
when you reach to fill the gap, your
own hands disappear. it is bottomless.
you will no longer be whole. but look,
when you open your mouth to speak,
is not your voice you hear, but theirs.
so you say their name and yours a
hundred times before bed, touch
the ghost of their head on your shoulder,
and say — thank you, what a gift it is
that the people you love do not stay dead.
By Diana RahimQLRS Vol. 14 No. 4 Oct 2015
Copyright © 2001-2023 The Authors