April 4, 2023
Synonyms for Grief
Daddy used to cup his hands at my ear
so I could hear the river. Every time
the world stops, something is lost.
A field of dogs shouts at the deer
in the dark trees. Empty skynight.
We buried the pig in a pit and now
we’re standing around the fire
with cans of Bud. Pull off one ear
and then another. These are synonyms
for grief: door, dirt, potato salad,
whiskey, cigarettes, shovel, biscuits,
pine logs, fried chicken, cigarette smoke,
grits, porch. That big wild Oak tree.
That Pecan tree with its lightning-split trunk
still giving seed. This is a name
for sadness: a mechanical butterfly
caught in a jar, and if you press
this button, it will push again and again
against the glass. Open the door.
Beneath the door, beneath that space
in the door, no gravity. People speak
in thought balloons. Daddy said,
When I die just throw me in the ditch.
K.E. Ogden is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize for her collection of poems What the Body Already Knows. A poet, essayist, book artist and educator, Kirsten chairs the Creative Writing committee at Pasadena City College where she is faculty editor of Inscape Magazine and organizes the PCC Humanities Speaker Series. Her work has been published at poets.org, The Dew Drop, Brevity, Louisiana Literature, Streetlight Magazine and elsewhere. A practitioner of Narrative Therapy, she believes that writing and poetry have the power to heal people and to change the world. Visit her on the web at: www.kirstenogden.com