Poem by Maya Stein

I found this poem tonight and it just about knocked the wind out of me. It describes so well what grief feels like — to me and I’m sure many, many others. The author is Maya Stein. Her website is linked in her name at the bottom of the poem. I found it while on this wonderful blog called 37 days. I still have not finished exploring it. I have a feeling I’ll be there a lot. Enjoy the poem.

let the world spin as it spins

Eat the last cookies in the box.

Wear the same pair of jeans two

weeks in a row. See the orchid die, leaf

by leaf. Wipe the countertop carelessly,

so it’s sticky as spit the next time

you lean on your elbows wondering

what’s for dinner. Watch hours

of television. Call for pizza, for Chinese,

for the cable company to give you even

more channels. Drive by the gym

without skipping a beat. Wash your hair only

when it starts to wilt, when the mirror

produces someone who doesn’t look like she wants

to get laid. Think about sex constantly.

Order cocktails. Play pool. Spend your money

on a massage, on t-shirts from the warehouse sale,

on inflation-priced bagels from the café down the street.

Ignore the obvious fact that the sheets

need changing. Occupy your bed gratuitously.

When you’re done reading for the night,

flop the pages open, straining the jacket.

Allow the avocados to ripen beyond repair.

Stain the kitchen sink with grape stems,

mango peels, olive pits with the meat

still clinging. Use vast quantities of paper towels

for a simple spill of water.

Lavish attention on the minute landscape

between your eyebrows.

Lose time. Ditch the mail into the bulging

plastic bag near your desk. Almost mistake it

for trash. Abandon the task of fixing

the dresser drawer. Turn your car

into a wastebasket.

And when it comes, fall with extravagant

ugliness. Grieve noisily into the balls of your fists.

Push your heels against the carpet, your chest squirming.

Feel the walls of the house vibrate with your pain.

Make pockmarks of your heart.

Collapse if you have to. It is like this.

The world spins as it spins.

No one knows,

even though we all know

this is between

you and you alone.

So yield. Commit your entire body.

Recognize your own astonishing anguish.

Tear it from your skin like a wolf

eviscerates her trapped leg. Shriek like

the downed bird you are.

Invest wholly in your damage.

Lap up each tumescent despair. Swallow

the pinbones of your loss. Caress

every razor edge of not enough. Gift yourself

long, bruising hours of hopelessness.

The world spins as it spins.

Your life is on that same axis,

half shadow, half radiance

and turning, always turning.

Maya Stein

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