Loss Without Ceremony
That hunger in the gut no one cooks for,
comes by to sign for, to cry for, no one comes
to sit up all night on the sofa saying yes
yes I remember so well, here, you ought to eat—
this is the most jagged grief,
emptiness unmourned by any rite.
Not the crowded kitchen
where we sat at her mother’s wood table
after the service
with her aunt and Tom and her wordless son.
We were, of all things, peeling potatoes
and chopping onions. A ridiculous recipe
we sniffled over our knives,
slicing into the sheer layers.
Later the dishes, the running
water, scraping, steam,
the clink and clank and churn,
the balletic action of passing
from one to the other. I bumped
into her son, who smiled. I touched
her husband’s wrist. Over his dark
blue suit, he had on a crazy apron.
Mary Anne can’t find a vase
for the lilacs. Can Alec go for ice?
Did somebody bring some bourbon?
I’ll go next door to Lola’s.
It isn’t any consolation, said someone young
who hadn’t lived through loss without a ceremony.
Who hadn’t been a man who lost a man he loved in secret.
Or one who from the window watched a moving van back out.
Or one who loves a child whose eyes have turned to walls.
All you can do is walk slowly thought a stubbled field,
pick some Queen Anne’s lace,
listen to the crickets.
And wish you were in a kitchen
polishing silver, washing dishes,
making something with your friends.
By Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
Recipient of the 2005 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press
from The Governor of Desire: Poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan.
Copyright © 1993 by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan.