an atheist's guide to grievingi. let your soliloquies be private,a prayer to trees and trees alone--cargo shorts,baby hairs,everywhere soft.tuck it away:that song by the kills,muffled sex under blankets,apologies through gritted teethii. when the news arrives,remember this was not special.a hundred other girls spokesottovoceinto his mouth,felt the blue valleyof his collarboneiii. watchbut say nothingas they stumble over his pronoun& still pinch tiny rainbow pins at his funeral.iv. flinch every time you see an ongoing truckv. remember him at all the wrong times:drunk with friends,making breakfast,masturbatingvii. put that record on& praytooloud
find someone else to serenade you naked at 2 AMthe night isn't quite blackbut it isn't blue either.in some purgatory between the twowe settleinto our newselves.it's light enough that we can see starsand trembling deer and our handsin front of our faces,but dark enough that i can'tsee the tremble in your lipswhen you tell me you're leaving/ / /you drive me homeone last time,sighing through the long stretch,the drive so brand-newin the wake of 2 years pulled apartat the seams.it is as if youhave never driven me home before,every streetlight and traffic signa fresh stroke of thick painton the canvas of our last day in love.cupid's chokehold is on the radioand i'm back on the swingset2 hours agowhere i told you storiesabout my old homei'll never tell you again./ / /i slink down the slide,stumbling onto new ground.i come down.
portrait of rosaliemy grandmother devoursphoto albumslike i devoursylvia plath anthologies,mémoire aprés mémoire aprésmémoire.memory after memoryafter memory.she tells me the same storyabout her first jobwithout a carfive times over,looking awayto anotherworld,black & white to me,but full-color to her.alzheimer's is a language.like french, it isjust another part of her.she does not rememberconversations from a week agoor to turn over laundry,but she remembersbus rides in the south, pre-1964,white weddings ingrey cathedralsthat are shopping malls now.i have learned to translateher repetition,the ways she can tellthe same memoryagain and againlike it is the first time.for this, too,is language:the new inflections in her voice,new details,the tears that frequenther glassy eyeslike uninvited guestsshe lets in anyway,street beggarsshe has already fed,she cannot remember to stop lovingmy grandmother'salzheimer'sis a neologist,re-inventing