On Your Birthday
You wore a red cable knit sweater shortly before you died.
It was one of your favorites.
I have photograph after photograph of you wearing it.
Each one a different memory I turn to for warmth.
The red of the sweater always brought out the strawberry highlights in your hair
lighter and brighter as the summer wore on.
Even when you stopped coloring your hair
your silver strands still reflected its red glow.
The day after you died, I took your sweater from where it had been casually tossed
and I inhaled deeply.
You smelled clean -- of Dove soap and soft musk.
And in one single moment a thousand memories of you brought me to my knees.
I folded up your sweater
with care and reverence
and I sealed it in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag
so I would always have it to remind me.
On your birthday I took it down from the top shelf in my closet.
I unzipped the bag--carefully and only by an inch--
lowering my nose into the bag as my body lowered to the floor,
those memories again bringing me to my knees.
Quickly, I sealed the bag shut, feeling guilty and regretful,
afraid I had lost your scent forever.
As if that were even possible.
As if I could ever forget your smell.
Like Dove soap and soft musk.
Reflections on Grief, After Losing My Dog to Cancer
Death rolled up in a white Explorer.
My baby wagged when she saw her.
“Where?” Death asked,
and my Spotted girl jumped on the sofa in reply.
Death sat on the coffee table
and gently stroked my girl.
I saw no joy, no glee, in Death’s eyes.
“It’s time, it’s time.”
The quality of mercy in a syringe.
“She should be hearing Jimi Hendrix soon,”
said Death after the first shot.
(excuse me, while I kiss the sky)
Between Death and her aide
I knelt on the floor and looked in my baby's eyes.
(there are a million ways to pray and kiss the ground)
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
The second shot, and, gently, a life departed.
No rage, she left that to me.
I wonder what Jimi was singing.
An angel for death,
playing his Pied Piper guitar.
We stood at the door and watched
Death drive away with our girl.
The gate swings open.
The gate swings shut.
The caravan makes its way.
(Fly on my sweet angel,
Fly on through the sky.)
Grief is like playing Statues.
You move throughout your day
Until grief yells, “Freeze!”
And you find yourself staring blankly at the carpet
the dirty window
the half-filled coffee pot.
At chunks of time –
lost now —
never coming back.
You think beforehand that there’s no way you will get through something like this.
No way you will survive.
But then it happens.
And you do.
And you feel queasy.
Sick even, that you survived
but your loved one did not.
I often wonder what C. S. Lewis meant by “a grief observed.” He wrote all about it, I guess I could re-read it.
But I know my grief-addled brain would simply look at words, without comprehension.
I look in the mirror, today, at 10:40 pm.
12 hours since my Spot died.
And I understand.
Grief is a puffy face.
Red cheeks that sting when touched.
A nose that perpetually drips.
Dried tears and salt stains on my cheeks.
Eyes, red and weary.
Dark circles that look like black eyes
to match the red, slapped cheeks.
The corners of my mouth try, but fail, to rise.
My eyes, so tired, yet won’t close.
I move – no, I shuffle – room to room.
Either staring blankly at walls or mirrors
or putting up dishes, microwaving food I won’t eat.
The house is still and quiet as I listen
for a snore that doesn’t come.
Christy Anna Jones, a writer and poet, holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Georgia. She recently returned to writing poetry to help her process her grief after losing her mom, aunt, and beloved dog all to cancer. Christy’s work has appeared in a variety of publications, including: Halcyon Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and Melancholy Hyperbole. She lives in Texas with her husband, cat, two dogs, two donkeys and twelve cows, but Georgia will always be on her mind. Visit her at christyannajones.com.