Grief History

they gave me five minutes
and a line across a page
like a cord for stringing beads
one by one, each cold round shape
slipped between my fingers
down the string of my life
no time to linger, no time
to feel the texture of each bead
only clack, clack, clack
as each moment dropped into place
thirty seconds to spare and
barely a margin left to scribble in
a macabre necklace sprawls across the page
I realize I can feel the weight of it
resting on my chest like lead
instinctively, my shoulders hunch
my spine curves in as I notice the ache
the bone-deep ache
the decades of ache, of accumulated grief
strung together like this, I see the years
of loneliness, of loss, of being
unknown in numberless new places
of unseen burdens shouldered alone
of anxious fears gamely papered over
as foundations rocked and crumbled
bead after morbid bead lies neatly in a line
yet, somehow, it’s a relief to feel
the heft of memories rest in my palm
to bind with a single cord
every painful recollection
and offer it openly
to another

1

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