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You were the only in utero child who did this–little kicks right under my rib cage.  I figured either you were a future soccer player or letting me know you were ready for the outside world. Like a man kicking a locked door down…

At that time I had two kids who made me doubt my maternal instinct, one who restored it, and I had learned to grieve as I lost.

You kept me in the game and at the same time reminded me that the world was so scary and I wasn’t much help against the monsters.

So now, after all these years of wonder, I face the monsters again.

I wish you had the guarantee of comfort, success, and deep love.  Which you actually do, not from a fickle world but from our mutual strong tower and savior-Jesus.

Stick close to him no matter what.

Which is, tangentially, the name the monster-no matter what.

Typical of Jesus- to name the monsters sleeping menacingly at our feet, then slay them, then somehow, miraculously, resurrect them as lambs.

I shave my head.

I once gave myself

Three markers

For grief–

Shaving my hair was the second monument.

I don’t want to get to the last. 

Thomas Jefferson once said

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot

No one ever talks about how hard it is to tie a knot while dangling at the end of a rope.

What will I do when I get to that third thing? That last strike?

The world is full

Of third strikes

So I am bare. A week ago I was bald. Suddenly empathetic to the plight

Of the chemo patient, men with pattern baldness

Bare.

Grief is bare, bald like a newborn, humble, helpless…

Marked.

For the sake of the children I tell people I shaved my hair for Lent.  I do not mention all these private griefs.

You cannot eat what ifs 

You cannot wrap illusions around

Your naked

Self in the storm

You can only 

Squint across the water

And say

When it comes

I will put the stones of remembrance

Here

Here

And here

For the girl I used be

And the ones I hold 

So dear

i don’t believe

The love songs 

Or troubadours

Who spin fiction from the moon

Just a rock in the sky

Just a bird on a string

Just a pebble skipped across

This cold, dark body

Of water, of sky

Light all reflective and blue

Constant unrequited

Face toward a hidden

Sun,

All light and warmth

Shaking surprise 

At the daylit retelling

All our justified fears,

Spectral lunar 

Ghost stories

this is eleven o’clock post

Meridian dark

You drive and search the night 

Each light becomes topography

For human hope

We light the low lights 

Hang fire from the trees

Put candles in the windows

For the lost son

Rely on them

Never facing the fixed point in our collective future

When light will pass

And utter dark

Will reign

Last agony 

Fallen world

what catches my first is our similarities–

White, single parental figures

Pudgy

Each toting 

Our respective passles

Of interracial children

She wears her tattoos on her sleeve

Mine are nowhere to 

Be seen

She cuts in front

Of my beautiful daughter 

Refuses help in a cold snit

Even though casual observation suggests

She needs all the assistance she can get

a beautiful song for you

No poetry in an accident
Cars strewn across the highway
Playthings tossed/broken/wrenched

Presumably at the hands of a capricious child

Only real
Terribly real
No simile can describe the way a man gets crushed by metal and words the
Airless horror of twisted steel

We scan the news for hope
That strangers survived
That hope prevailed

When the naked eye snaps
A picture you cannot forget
A cardboard box like a truck
Innards like paper
An explosion of pulp not fire
Still the ghosts of this haunting forest

Sorrow spills out all snow, water, and fear
Can any man survive this no

I ask myself what was on each sheet
Of paper
A bride’s dress
A virgin’s heavy veil
Or simply the stuffing from a pillow
We all know these are the feathers of the dead

Yet we lay our heads down on them
The wings of seraphim

You my fearless
Ordinary angel

for my wonderful Antonia