IT’S NOT TRUE,
everything bad that’s ever happened to us
has happened in August.
A lot of good things have happened in August, too.
Still, how else to account
for the foreboding I felt as July neared its close,
like I dreaded seeing come again
when flowers I’ve tended
begin to show off
and I should be exuberant,
but am not?
IT’S NOT that I’m a superstitious person
by any measure
(except that thing about things coming in threes).
It’s not that when the calendar turns to August,
I fear something else bad is bound to happen, no.
It’s the Anniversaries of Things Past,
of having the wind knocked out of me
and years I missed
the blooming of the sunflowers
for tending to grief.
Seems just about everyone
has a sore spot on the calendar.
My grandmother did.
Every June 21st,
she turned quiet, lit a cigarette,
and, after a long exhale,
said, “This is the day she left us.”
Even in her 80s.
I’d sit quiet by her
until she snuffed out the cigarette
and pulled a library book off the stack,
saying, “Maybe this will get my mind off it.”
There are dates on calendars that stick in our heads
long after everyone else has moved along.
To everything there is a season,
and grief deserves its season, for sure,
but does it need to be every year
every bloom time
every train whistle
every hearing of children’s laughter,
and every time the calendar turns to that month?
For some, yes, for a time.
And nobody can predict what the end point will be.
But for me, now,
to give a nod of acknowledgement,
some moments of silence maybe –
perhaps some other ritual will insert itself,
like reading a particular passage –
then transfer my grief to a smaller container
that does not leak out onto everything.
to make a list
of all the things
I think I’m disqualified from
because of what happened
and see it for what it is, lies.
Then go out and stand in the field of sunflowers
and not miss another season of bloom.