Four Poems of Love, Loss, Grief, and Grace

published in ONE ART


Grief, love, and gratitude. That’s the essence of the last six months, the essence of these four poems published in ONE ART–the first poems I’ve sent out about meeting the loss of my son. Thank you to Mark Danowsky for publishing them on Twosday (2/22/22), a day that Finn would have celebrated. Poetry has been a saving grace–reading it, writing it, talking about it. For all who love, for all who have lost or will lose a loved one, I hope these poems find resonance. We are not yet done with our loving.


After Reading a Romance at Midnight

For two hours, I am the woman
who works at the orphanage, the woman
who falls in love with a man from India
who is not who he says he is.
He and I make love for hours beneath a mirror,
twining our limbs in a sea of silk,
and he shows me the pleasure
of losing the stories I’ve told myself
about what is possible with love.
When, after many pages,
we arrive at happily ever after,
I find myself on the couch in my kitchen,
notice my own thick legs curled beneath me,
my own raw heart in my tired chest
doing its faithful work. I’m surprised
to return to my own story:
the woman who is grieving—
the woman alone
in the empty room who listens
for the voice that isn’t there,
who listens for footsteps that do not come.
For the last two hours, I had forgotten her,
had forgotten this woman
whose story I know as my own,
this woman who lost her son.
I had forgotten the ache she carries,
the constant throb. And though it cuts,
though it wounds,
I am so grateful to return to her life,
to her story—the story
of how she gave her everything
to someone she loved,
how she knows he loved her, too.
It’s not a story she had wanted to live,
but now that it’s hers
she would never give up a page
of their story. Not a single word.


My Son’s First Word

He pointed at the grass
beneath the cottonwood tree
and said “dado.”
Shadow? I asked.
Not ball, not mama,
not cat, not dad.
Already at one,
he was aware of both
what is and what isn’t here—
how sometimes the light
is intercepted.
After Finn died, I dreamt
a young boy taught me
how I could help my son’s
transformation by
guiding his energy
through the shadow
of a total eclipse,
a golden corona flaming
about the circumference.
All night, certain I was awake,
I pulled luminous swirls
through the dark center, and
Finn’s energy disappeared
into the heart of the shadow,
into the light beyond.
A shadow is nothing,
of course, which is to say
it is also everything. The way
my life is now steeped
in the shadow of his life,
the way the shape of him
follows me everywhere I go.


Today I Realize

I can still call your phone
and hear your voice mail.
And so I do, I call it,
and the low tones
of your familiar voice
reach all the way in
and squeeze my lungs.
This is you know who.
We are you know where.
Leave your you know what
you know when.
I hang up at the beep,
and then I’m gasping,
choking, making sounds
I don’t recognize.
And then the house is quiet.
The ache is like a time lapse
of a rose in bloom—
first clenched, then
opening and opening
and impossibly opening,
then fading, then dropping away.
Every day a new bouquet
of ways I miss you.
Today, I miss the deep
song of your voice,
how it opens in me
fragrant, like home.



The day your son died, the person you were died, too.
         —Mirabai Starr

Death came to her
as a blue sky day,
as a feral scream,
as an ambulance
with no need
for its siren.
Death came to her
saying, “Ma’am,
you don’t want
to see your son
this way.” Death
knew what it
was doing when
it erased everything
she’d thought
about how to meet
a day, when it scraped
her of who
she had been
and left her barren.
It was habit
that made her
brush her teeth,
routine that helped
her drive the car.
But it was life itself
that inspirited
her, slipping
like starlight
into her every
dark cell, life itself
that whispered
to her death-bent heart,
You are not done
yet with your