Mile After Mile (and a found poem)

20151206_124426 (2)There is no getting “there.” I am like these tracks I hiked by last weekend, I keep rolling, mile after mile. We all do. Life comes at you, pulls you along, sweeps you onward, rumbles into the next station. Grief, I am learning, is like that. Last December, on the one year anniversary of my husband’s death, I woke to this thought playing like ticker tape across my brain: I made it. I took my kids to the grave, we had lunch with my mom, I Skyped his family in broken French. I felt strong. The next day I woke up to this thought: oh shit, I have to keep doing this – forever. As we head into the same week, the week of saying goodbye, of surreal grief and love, I am more in the oh shit frame of mind.

He will never be less than what he was to me. I am making it through, even thriving, but it will never be OK that he is not here. I will keep rolling, year after year, (more like day after day) but so will the missing, the deep ache for him, and the shock, it rolls with me.

Every month during the first year I wrote a paragraph called What Today Feels Like. It helped me mark the day and share my feelings with my family. I was never a journal writer, but something drove me to write those pieces – I never missed a month. On the 17th, the day he died, I would pull out my iPad and write. I stopped last December, the end of year one. I paid less attention to the months and days – I just knew I was in year two. As this year ends, I took out my iPad to take a look at those early words. I wonder what year three will feel like? Maybe there are clues on that iPad.

A found poem is like a collage – you can use other poems, newspapers, books, even signs. As I read my words written on all those 17ths of the month, those sharp days in that first year, I see the collage of my own experience – the mixed up moments, the tentative steps, the stunning survival, the sleepless exhaustion, and the gutting memories. Here is my found poem from those paragraphs. Each line is from a month, rolling on, from January to December. Part of the fun of a found poem is not over thinking it, so I will pull out lines that speak to me – I wonder how it will turn out? Here goes….

I dressed for you, put on something pink,

drove 80 miles each way for laughter,

ended up in our closet looking for your shirt,

as if you are on a long trip,

I want to be lazy, trace the perfect arch of your foot,

birds and lawn mowers humming through the house from every open window,

(summer came anyway)

a long to do list in my head, a get through list,

keep moving so I don’t fall down,

a beautiful day, a sore foot, a sad child, a quiet house,

closing my eyes and remembering your face,

I want to sleep for a month.

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2 thoughts on “Mile After Mile (and a found poem)

  1. You are an amazing writer! The lines of poetry created something really vivid. The disjointedness makes each image unexpected and unique – yet it is all tied together like a hurried day. I am thinking of you every day and wishing I could take your pain away.


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