I want to talk to you about your grief
in terms that sound a little more familiar
than someone’s misinterpretation of a 5 step
process, because: that shit isn’t going to cut it
when it comes to plugging a gaping hole
that happens to run through your due north
Think about it like:
your car insurance bill
the recycling that needs to go out
the pilot light gone dark, gassing up the kitchen
the living, howling need it is
You know what happens if you leave termites?
they pillage from the inside out
Don’t confuse it with a card in a shoebox,
photos taped into the safety of an album,
or a prayer card fraying in your wallet
Resist the urge to believe the epitome of someone—
a whole person— can be scheduled, compressed
and tucked away like piles of rank laundry
Grief now lives on and over you
scaffolding your motions like eczema; acne; arthritis
A chronic— and sporadic— and absolutely petulant
part of you that now requires Work
Hardly curable by Western medicine
nor does it give two shits about your PTO—
vacation responder some other emotion
that doesn’t traverse all timezones and zip codes
The root of grief is love
you don’t pass Go in trying to
kill it, or refusing it existed
and it’s not worth losing your
Atlantic Avenue over denial
Grief, alas, is always a “yes, and”
going dormant only to flare and
find pathways back to your heart
that leave you exasperated and hopeless
It’s not okay, I know. I know.
But for the sake of this exercise:
Grief is not retaliatory
fierce, of course, but rarely malicious
rarely trying to fractionate you any further
Rather than: inflammation asking to heal
So if you need to stop for a moment
if you need to honor your shadows—
get super fucking angry on a Tuesday
because someone bought you Blue Gatorade
when you insisted on Lemon Lime
Because all you feel with one simple error
is baseball fields and Third Eye Blind and
the absolutely, unshakeable truth that you are
operating without someone once in your peripherals
It was real.
It still is, even if it’s not the same
Some semblance of time passing
will make the phantom limb less sore.
Mackenzie Moore is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Spotify podcasts, and in Hobart, X-RAY, and The Dallas Review. She’s an incoming residential writer for the 2023 Kenyon Review nonfiction workshop.
image: “Barbed Wire:” An AI image generated by text: Sean O’leary is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. he has published two literary short story collections, ‘My Town’ and ‘Walking’. His literary novella ‘Drifting’ was the winner of the ‘The Great Novella Search 2016’ and published in 2017. He self published ‘The Heat’ his crime novella set in Darwin and Bangkok in 2019. ‘Drifting’ and ‘The Heat’ will be re-published by Next Chapter in 2021/22. His second crime novella ‘Preston Noir’ was published in 2020 in ‘Crime Double Feature…Neo Noir’ from the indie press ‘Zombie Pirate Publishing’ His crime fiction collection ‘Wonderland‘ was recently published by the down and dirty folk at Close to the Bone Publishing in the United Kingdown. His new crime novel ‘Going All the Way’ and short story collection ‘Tokyo Jazz & Other Stories’ are both out now through Next Chapter Publishing. He is currently working on his new crime novel and ongoing short stories all the time.
He likes to walk all over the face of the earth, take photos, travel as often as he can, supports Melbourne Football Club (a life sentence) enjoys art but knows nothing about it, is a film buff and writes like a demon.