07
Jun
11

grace sufficient

You were always so good at awkwardness.
Always so good at dealing with awkwardness is what I meant to say.
All those little moments-
Forgetting someone’s name
Introducing them by the wrong one
Beginning to tell an anecdote that was never to be shared
To the person who had secretly been gossiped about-
Little moments that get remembered much bigger,
That become bricks added to a wall of misunderstandings
Or planks removed from the sub-floor of a friendship.
You were so very graceful in handling these things
And I could have used your grace, could have used you
Standing beside me at the wake
Greeting the visitors, making them welcome,
Making them feel comfortable, smoothing over the awkwardness.
Because there was so much discomfort, so much awkwardness
With no one knowing what to say to me
About your death, Most of all about the way you died.
Platitudes fought for tongue-space with statements and statistics:
I’m so sorry for your loss.
Most accidents happen at home.
The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house.
Forty-two percent of those who slip in the tub hit their head, slide underwater and drown.
I soaked in the tub at the hotel the day after the service.
I showered at the gym where they hadn’t seen me in six months.
I tried to convince myself no one needs to wash more than once a week
And after all in olden times they did it less often than that and carried flowers.
Now, at last, though here I am, in the sunny yellow room we painted together years ago.
Thermostat turned up high to fight my chills;
Soap positioned just so, in the dish at the far side of the tub;
Cell phone at the ready, on the counter;
A pile of fluffy towels, on the floor at the end where my head will be.
I cross myself one way then the other.
I ask Mary, Joseph and Little Baby Jesus to watch over me.
Put one foot and the other into the water. Grabbing both sides of the tub, I sit down.
I slide a little and the water comes up
Up
But only to my chest. I’m going to be alright
And I can breathe again.

[This poem was inspired by an exercise by Maura Stanton called “The Widow”. The goal is to write in the voice of a woman whose husband has drowned. She hates the water but is forced through circumstances to confront it. I like the poem I wrote as a result. It’s dark but at the same time it isn’t.]

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1 Response to “grace sufficient”


  1. June 8, 2011 at 10:28

    I really liked how you captured her voice and the ‘awkwardness’ theme you used…well done!


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