Putting Grief in a Smaller Container

sunflower field

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,
the remembering
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.
That’s okay.

To everything there is a season,
Solomon wrote,
and grief deserves its season, for sure,
but does it need to be every year
every holiday
every birthday
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,
I’m ready
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.

I’m ready
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.

Notes: “To everything there is a season….”

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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7 Responses to Putting Grief in a Smaller Container

  1. Fern Boldt says:

    Powerful thoughts, Marilyn. I hope you get your grief transferred to a smaller container. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon says:

    Marilyn, The timing of your lovely poem is perfect. You see, my youngest son’s 32nd birthday is today–a son I haven’t had the blessing to see , hear or hug in 14 years. I am on a train in Boston heading back to Maine as I write this (on my return home from a writer’s retreat in Virginia). It is the closest I have felt to him in all these years, as he lives just outside of Boston. I whisper happy birthday to him over and over again, hoping he hears me with his heart. I give a moment of silence and pray for him and reconciliation.
    Early this morning, my husband sent me a photo of our back yard hydrangeas in full bloom– the ones I have tended all summer. (I wish I could send it along in this comment, but I’m not sure I know how to.) This is the summer I have decided not missed another season of bloom. Love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon says:

    Sorry for the typos… Autocorrect on my phone and a bumpy train ride don’t help. My last sentence should read: This is the summer I have decided not to miss another season of bloom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marilyn says:

    Beautiful, sad, hopeful – all at once. I’m glad for the timing of it. I didn’t know, of course. You are sweet to write from the train and let me know.


  5. Belinda says:

    Oh, so glad you’re HERE now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pastordt says:

    Makes me happy to read this, Marilyn. Drink in those sunflowers for me, too, will ya?

    Liked by 1 person

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