How to Grieve

images.jpgBy Dave Pritchett

Kill the crows
encircling your head
save for the one with the blackened mouth
–he will guide your soul later on.

Pluck the feathers;
swallow half,
quill and all,
and with the rest create a bed.

Lie on the feathers,
they are your mattress of mourning.
With the rusty knife of memory,
Cut out your heart.
Salt it with your tears
–this will hurt, but will ultimately preserve it.

Stuff your mouth with cinders
So that you can only speak ashes.

Lie there for seven years
Letting the wolves of loneliness
And vultures of despair
Pick your bones.

You are not done.

Hyenas will come to gnaw your remains,
And they will not leave
until they have cracked bone.

Know the darkness.
Rest in the shattering.

When the time comes to rise
You will know it.
Sing to the four winds
And they will sweep together
your scattered shards.

You will recall the tune
And the stars
will whisper the words to you.

A child will come
And only she
Can puzzle together
Your skeleton.

Praise the puzzling child.

Once assembled,
You will find that your ligaments,
Muscles, organs, viscera, and skin
Remember how to grow.

Praise their remembrance.

Now, follow
the crow
with the blackened mouth
To the great oak tree
Which only he knows.

an acorn
from the ground.

Carry it
to the corner of the earth
where you were first

Drop the acorn,
press it into the soil
with your foot.

Bless its growth,
And find that when you speak
the cinders in your mouth
have composted,
turned into rich loam
falling to fertilize that seed of new life.

Praise the sprout.
Praise the acorn seed.
Praise the cinder-dressed soil.
Praise the black-mouthed crow.
Praise the feather bed.
Praise the heart-preserving tears.
Praise the grief.
Praise the love underneath it all.

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