Grief comes with its furniture, misspelled postage on the packaging. It leaves around the bubble wrap and the cushioning hay, empties the cartons and arranges it chaos while humming a French song whose words mix with each other. It places a desk against the wall, like it were here to stay. Your claylike body accepts the weight of its four metal feet, as they are pressed on like tattoos. It brings a typewriter with missing keys, papers torn from thick books no one ever finished reading. A chandelier made from collected shards of glass, sharp enough to slit your fingers. A flowerpot with magnolias that it never waters.
A second-hand sofa and a table with an Italian lace cover, that shows dust between its cream coloured reticulations. A can of dark blue paint that looks like it could hold stars but doesn’t, to paint the windows nightly. Grief brings no blankets for the cold. But oil lamps, yes, it doesn’t trust electric bulbs. Sometimes, it sits in the dark on a rocking chair that neither recognises it’s weight nor oscillates, and if you pass by it, you may not notice it.
Grief brings a clock with no hour hand. A cracked cup that cuts its lips every time it tries to take a sip of juice. There is no mirror, no cabinet or extra spoons. There is an eggshell shaped flask that it dreams of keeping a fish in. Grief has no name, and plans to call the fish with hoots. It keeps pebbles on the floor, blue, grey and brown, like a half-made seashore that someone forgot about. And a refrigerator to keep mechanical tools, a spade and an axle. It has a radio that needs a change of batteries and crackles with transmission buzz. A hotplate to cook food, and a piece of paper with emergency numbers written in haphazard handwriting.
In some lives, you are slow, as you watch the watercolour spill softly across the grass. Turning from blue to white, then meeting pink and red pools and quickly quilled into flowers.
On other days, hurrying, a paraphernalia about to turn into a painting waits spread across the living room floor. You leave violet fingerprints on the knob as you leave home.
Rain falls like broken pieces of a long silver thread. Reminds me of the silk you wove around your fingers, wounded your hands in until your knuckles were dressed in cages. Cages made of little malleable rings that can be broken with whispers. This rain sits like a clue on my window when I wake up in the morning and brush the curtains aside, like words from a language I cannot speak but love the sound of, like your German. It sounds like the music from an old English fairytale, the kind you would read to a young girl before she went to bed if you lived in the 1300s. This rain is from another time, a ghost that came knocking last night. It is gone now, but has left traces, like footprints lingering in snow, in its passing. When I wake up, I first see its specks of silver on the glass, and then, the ground outside, untouched. The sky has ruffled its grey coat, worn it inside-out, no threads waver from its confettied stitches. But now the memory of rain saddens me deeply, for I have missed the morning’s song, a beautiful bedtime story, all your words rolled beautifully into one, morgen, liebe, plötzlich.
I remember those places I visited as a child through words I do not know. I miss my first home in the flowers that I never learnt to name. Those white petals that had bright orange stems, resembled jasmines, were strewn about the road. I know the way they smelt, and I know how they left wet patches on the soil when crushed by our car tires leaving.
Can we build ourselves a trail
Of plump clementines
Pick them up from the soil,
And eat with slippery hands,
As we walk until the sky
Has drunk the sunlight,
Tell me all the tales,
You couldn’t last time.
Yes, I look at the autumnal orange of the sky
Try to capture and recapture last evening’s purple on this day,
But when I stand at this hilltop,
Sapphire rooftops kissing the waking moon,
There is nothing more magical than blue.
Can we please talk about
the slow stillness of time, the quiet of the sound of my breathing. When I pick and unpick the broken glass, sweep aside shards that remain of nesting dolls, fit with patient fingers, torn photos in old frames, and wipe then the water from the fallen vase, lilies trampled upon, eaten by the soles of my boots
The mantelpiece is now a sporadic star lying shattered by my feet.
What of the humbling of my anger, who like a tired child has fallen asleep in a corner of the street after a fruitless riot, the snowflake that had balleted in grace, toes bleeding through silk shoes, that rests now on the warm ground? Let us write with beauty of inconsistencies, when I remade my home after knocking it down with one swift brush, romanticise my anger as you do my love.
I come back from work, worn out and spent. Each night, I wake up mid-sleep, as if I had never gone to bed.
I walk to the kitchen and start pulling out cans and jars. My eyes don’t even have to see where my hands are going anymore, I remember what bottle lies on which stack just as I know the alphabet.
I follow your recipe to the dot.
The same amount of flour, a cup full of sugar, little chips of chocolate hidden amidst the dough like gems in sand.
But I could never bake them like you did. So by the time I finish, the house starts to feel very empty again, without you and your sweet-smelling cookie dough.
Some mornings I wake up only for you.
Thank you for embracing me without hurting my bones. For keeping the refrigerator stocked, filled to the brim with eggs.
For letting me walk you down the altar, weak and frail.
For forgoing not one, but two childhoods, yours and Susan’s, in my care.
I know living with me and my cancer is difficult, but thank you for never complaining about this untimely guest.
I will love you in life and in death, and I will try, for as long as possible, to be your
She is like an ellipsis, do you understand?
Like an eternal string of lights that brightens the Christmas tree without end.
She is like a candy that does not melt, a fountain of beauty that does not exhaust, an undying day.
She is the soft rain of snow lingering in the air.
She is so endless that it is impossible to hold her.
And hence I do not have her, even though she is all around me.