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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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by Marian Kilcoyne




A great havoc descends when someone dies. People are bewildered by the enormity of the grief that jostles them along bullyingly. Days and weeks pass in succession and the bereaved have a hunted look, a hollowed out appearance, and the gait of beggars.

Now that I am one of those people again, I see things very differently than did my previous self. The landscape has shifted and I no longer recognize things around me. Everything is there where it should be, but it is not mine and I do not want it. I want to go back and continue on, the way I was before the defeat. Visiting the cemetery is an exercise in mental marshalling: the perp’ walk to reality.

As days pass, I give more consideration to the nature of grief and it’s ubiquity in my every day. It is a nasty little entity. I decide I will not go meekly but I will weigh each module of grief and rate its ability to incapacitate me. But here is the rub; it is sneaky and low and throttles me when I least expect it. Often, when I am driving along a road I know well, it will throw a memory at me of the lost one, and I am forced to pull over for fear of the acid tears that clog my eyes. Everyone says it is best to go with the grief and let it heal you.

How’s that for inversion perversion?

I decide I will become a potter and sit in front of my potter’s wheel and fashion a home for grief from deep red muggy clay. This will not be a symbol of grief or some eloquent exposition of my inner pain. Neither will it be a nihilistic spewing of rage from my battered self. It will in fact, be the very essence of grief that I will bury deep in the clay. I will mould it with my own mother hands, pour in the turgid grief and then, having baked it in a hellish oven I will place it by the sea, ‘Rooted in one dear perpetual place’, as Yeats would have it.

There will be no more lurching from side to side with sorrow, or dragging movements filled with ignoble pain. I will not have to wait on time to heal or consultations with well-meaning counsellors. There will be no prayers for strength to any Gods or deep meditation aided by valium. My grief has been excised and encased in clay; awaiting excavation by future generations, more courageous than I.