The Work of Woman

The world is forever ending,

every generation chasing the same

catastrophes and atrocities their parents

learned before them. Migrating in search

of herds of hatred, anger, and fear to feed upon.


But for each inky night that swallows up hope,

there is a woman who stands up,

though her soul is broken,

and crosses the room to light a fire

and places a potato in a pot

or the very last grains of rice,

because stomachs must be fed

and laundry doesn’t care for cataclysm.


A woman who, in her grandad’s pickup truck,

her forehead resting against one chapped hand

as she mouths the music on the radio,

drives to the bank for the loan,

because the chemo won’t pay for itself.


A woman who rises early for work at the factory

and pins a yellow Star of David on her coat,

because the rent is due, and it’s been almost a month now

since they took father and Misha away.


A woman who has watched a thousand men

ascend the ladder ahead of her, but who shows up,

measures her smiles and speaks calmly, firmly,

because her message is important and must not be dismissed.


A woman who weeps and arranges the shattered

pieces of her heart into the shape of a poem

to send out into the crumbling world,

because somewhere in the desolation

are the ears of others listening for signs they’re not alone.


A woman who leans over the cradle of an infant

she did not birth and will not raise,

but who she will pick up and comfort and feed,

becoming for only a moment a mother

in place of the mother who didn’t make it through the night.


A birthright, this numb inertia

that keeps life slowly wading forward

through the scalding lava of destruction

as the world ends

and ends

and ends


The Work of Woman

Even before Monday’s heart-wrenching news, depression’s been much on my mind of late for a few reasons.

I’ve been thinking and writing about the tendency creative people have to self destruct. I had recently learned that my favorite childhood author, LM Montgomery, died in a manner that some members of her family believe was a hushed-up suicide. As a writer, the suicide rate among writers is upsetting.

Also, I watched as the 3rd of my brother’s post-suicide birthdays slipped past in the beginning of this month. He would have been 46.

Monday’s news made me grieve for my brother all over again.

My brother was an astonishingly intelligent person. He was generous, hilariously funny, and musically gifted. I cannot hear Pink Floyd or see macaroni and cheese without thinking of him.

Sometimes the guilt that we could not keep him here, is overwhelming.

When I look back at the last time I saw him, so many red flags appear in hindsight. He made gifts to my children of things that were precious to him. He stayed the night, sleeping on the living room couch and staying up late to talk with me about politics and life. We had very opposite  political viewpoints, but he listened to me that night and shared his thoughts. A final act of  love from someone on his way out the door. I’m not a touchy-feely person. I don’t remember whether or not I hugged him goodbye the next morning as I headed to work, but I hope I did.

So I am grieving again for my brother. I don’t know if this hole can ever heal. Just when I think it’s starting to, it opens again.

Since his death, I hug everyone goodbye, every time, no matter what. Some people think it’s silly, but I don’t ever again want to let death make me wonder if someone knew that I loved them.

So I  hug goodbye now. I let go last. Sometimes I hug them twice.