The Fourth of April

This selection of writing is a poem that I wrote, about my wife and I, coping with the death of our son.

The Fourth of April

Jesse left us three years ago.
And remembering him this morning, we wandered over to the empty place where
Our blundering footsteps had taken us on that day.
Stopping, we explored each other’s faces, and we listened.
Exhausted by merely thinking of the words that should be said,
None could be spoken.
Not even the utterance of a single word.

There, without words, we took our seats
on the opposite ends of Grief’s Fulcrum.
But we did not teeter there.  We are afraid to move up or down. 
We sat motionless, absent love’s gravity,
And weighed each other’s forgiveness against recriminations.
No elegant balancing act was given to us then by Grace.
She sat in her seat.  Me in mine.


Now, with the day mostly done
I knock on our apartment door.
And I hear her footsteps inside, running to unlock it and let me in.
She doesn’t know that I can hear her running to the door.
She would like for me to think that she had much better things to do.
That she’s been busy all day, and not staring at the walls,
Quietly weeping and remembering this date.

But she quickly opens the door and lets me in.
She scarcely looks at my face. 
She doesn’t need to.
She offers only the top of her head for me to kiss.
An obligatory gesture offered
To welcome home the old warrior,
Arrow shaft still protruding from his chest.

But we cannot deny the ancient and holy command
For our eyes to meet, and our ears to hear each other’s words.
With small murmurs, in sighing hums, we ascend from dark to light,
As at birth, with our eyes closed and crying, 
We bow our heads and receive God’s uplifting blessing,
Triumphing over the binding spirit that imposes silence and forbids loving speech,
Broken asunder and dispelled by the God who loves us.

Embracing this release, we hold each other and kiss.
And I tell her that the sun comes to me in the morning before it comes to her.
But she will get to hang onto it into the evening, after it is dark for me.
All will be good, and she smiles at the thought.
And that night we no longer seek our complicity in his departure.
We’re grateful for our wrinkled faces and the top of each other’s heads to kiss.
It is the fourth of April, and we mark the 4/4 date as if it were indeed common time.