I did not know my own heart.
Her shouts had become whispers until I developed a heart murmur. I was so very skilled at argumentation that I had everyone convinced, including myself, that my feet were not walking to a different drumbeat than the one that my heart pounded.
Slowly, my light began to go out. I guess my heart couldn’t bear to see all the jarring features of this wrong path- the bracken, the exposed roots in muddy ground, dark birds whose eyes gleamed of Hades and hopelessness- so she slowly ceased shining.
All was darkness. Still, I pretended that what was dark was light. I told boldfaced lies into other peoples’ faces because my early home training indicated that one had no self outside of the dutiful daughter self.
Then, one day that we should all be blessed to encounter, my heart dropped down the cavern of my body and fell out of womb to the ground. People were careless, they stepped on it and even pointed and whispered, wondering what it was, but I was careful. Finally. I dropped to the ground after it. I ignored the others. I took a glass cover and placed it over my heart, so in danger of drying up on the surface of the cold winter earth.
I whispered to her. I brought her drink and food and scent and song. I cajoled her back to health. And when she was strong again, she climbed into my chest, happily swinging around the monkey bars of my rib cage. She thumped and I sang. She pirouetted and I swam around in her oceans for the very first time. I kept all these juices for myself, to drink deeply and be drunk on my own essences.
This is how I came home to myself.
Your Grief is not a muddy puddle. You cannot jump over it.
Your Grief is not a riptide. It will not pull you under.
Your Grief is not a stepchild; you may not forget her. Your Grief is not a challenge or a quest or even a compass. Your Grief is the layer of leaves coating the forest floor; constantly underfoot, cracking with the pressure exerted by your soles, wanting to become one with the earth again.
Your Grief has a life cycle. It is incubated, it is born, it grows and learns to speak and seems to have a mind belonging only to it. It doesn’t care whether you are tired or meeting a deadline or falling in love. When it is hungry, you must feed it.
What does Your Grief like to eat? It craves remembrance. Take Your Grief to the last body of water you sat by with your dead Beloved and cry cry cry. Repeat her name, repeatedly. Chant it to the rhythm of your own heartbeat, drop the pitch so low and speed up the rate so much until her name is the buzzing of a hundred hives of angry bees despairing at the death of the mortal world.
Your Grief loves to eat dance, too. The dance of words in a poem. The dance of emotional striptease, slowly, with aching desire, peeling a glove of concealment or a feather boa of misdirection from the very plain, very honest animal body of the soul. And of course the dance of the body itself, when it is cloaked only in Your Grief and lies on the honey wood floor of the dance studio, weeping, and yet still moving, still rolling and arching and feeling the varied threads of the music holding you together.
Your Grief is a crying baby. A starving child. When it is not fed, the world cannot roll along easily in its orbit. You can try to ignore it. Try to turn the volume up on the dance hits that advocate for forgetting. Try to kiss pale eyes goodnight and close them to seeing. But your Grief wants you to collect those leaves from the forest floor, wants you to daily turn the compost bin with a pitchfork, mixed with watermelon rinds and tea bags and coffee grounds, wants you to know what season in your life it is so that you don’t get fed up trying to grow wildflowers in an impoverished earth.