A Psalm of Grief and Grammar

There are impossible pains

for which there are no words

or phrases which can dislodge

the broken branches and hearts

caught in the throat

which  forever change our stories

Life is punctuated with loss

grief ends sentences in our story

with hard returns and

small hard unforgiving black periods

which are unyielding and solid

will never, ever become commas, again.

We, the people shake empty hands

at God and man and earth and

ask: Why? Our sentences end with

question marks, shouted into space

and we know there will be no answer

but we will never cease to ask: Why?

Some days, there is peace, days which

have no punctuation, a run on sentence

of relief without intro or afterward

or demands for bends in our road

and we live for this open ended feeling,

we accept the plot, character and narrator.

Other days, oh, those tedious other days,

where semi-colons, dashes and dot dot dots… divide our

story into categories so we can get “a hold”

on who we are, what we are doing, we

get out ruler and sieve and scale and red pen and other

tools to reign in bad grammar and correct mistakes.

On good days, of friendship and feasting

we are able to say things of hope and love

followed by one, maybe two exclamation points

and my,  it does feel good on the tongue

and in the heart to exclaim something other than ‘why’.

To give thanks for what there was, and is. And will be.

Blessed are we, if we, despite,

all the poor endings and unfinished paragraphs,

should form our grief into poetry,

a God-language with less proper rules
than that of story or truth or fact and syntax
and can praise, open palmed in prayer and psalm.

Our grief fragments can be woven together

to become art, and song, the stuff legends are made of,

bypassing grammar and biography and even history

because or very soul is made for this unbearable beauty,

although punctuated with unspeakable and everyday pain.

We, the people who are able, continue on, that is our story.

Though we shall never stop hoping for a good ending

for ourselves, and a good beginning for others

and that one day, some day, the footnotes of the universe

will be revealed at last — and the Great Editor,

whose words “In the beginning…” started all of this.

Will hold us on that great lap and begin “Once upon a time”

And instead of crying, we shall laugh, and forgive,

and dream and love as if we understood the messages after all.

My pen breaks forth into flourish and calligraphic praise

Calling for you, for me, and for all who grieve

on bended neck and knee to rise up from our low estate

and create.  Yes I said, create. Grief has punctuated our story.

But that is not the end.

That is how the Creator wrote and spoke this story.

Through creating. And so after enough tears, and ashes,

we will remember again, we have a part in how it all turns out,

not everything that happens. But some things.

Like what sentences come out of our mouths, and

what part we get to play in this grand mysterious story.

Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing. Psalm


For Sally