1. "Breathe in pain. Then try to breathe out light. Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use suffering, as the path to compassion." 2. We are married thirty-five years today. To celebrate, I bring pastries to work. Autumn morning sun, still lush with summer, swells through the kitchen window and begins to melt the chocolate. Well-wishers surround me, and I am astonished that life has given me so much. Then someone comes in to ask if we know about the towers. It is hard to remember the rest of the day. In the evening, we go to dinner, drink sangria, but grief has come to the table and it has an appetite. 3 "Practice. Breathe in the pain, then try to breathe out light.." Taking in the pain is necessary. Everywhere it billows smoke that blackens air, clogs lungs, rising through many days. Breathing out light is harder. I envision light, but it bursts into clouds of flame. Steel melts, towers fall again. The teacher says: "Imagine what is hot then breathe it in." In the street, people were covered with ashes of burnt papers, blown glass, packages. Worlds burned. "Remember what is cool and refreshing, then exhale." Cool is what I long for Cool is what I need, Does this burning end tomorrow or only yesterday? 4 . (September 11, 1966) We are unformed when we marry. We do not yet know what we do not know. High above Central Park, everything is waiting for us while we embrace, then you break the wineglass. Sometimes glass breaks joyfully, the bottle of champagne on a new boat, the wedding glass beneath your shoe. I want to save each piece. 5. Breathe in. Fine china breaks into jagged fragments, razor-like shards, and white powder. Most patterns can be refilled, but these steel girders, these charred bones forge new patterns in broken spaces. Breathe out. Every day the dead are buried in many languages. And people circle the site with photos of the missing. Have you seen, have you heard anything of...? Grief washes out colors. Brilliant September days recede behind walls of smoke, curtains of toxic ash. 6 (September 11, 1973) We are the parents of one radiant little girl. Today, on our seventh anniversary, I give birth to another. We are astonished that life has given us so much. The autumn sun shines pink-gold through our window. it feels safe to move forward into time. 7. Shock devours tastes. Coffee seems bitter, bread coarse. What should be sweet is sickening. What should be salty burns the tongue. Friends want to gather, share food. The idea seems frivolous, but we gather and break the still-warm bread. Grieving together we are heavier and also lighter. After this, I can breathe more deeply. The city is broken. In our shared memories the Towers stand like ghost limbs feeling pain even after they are severed. Early winter sky is sharp with crystals of loss. Workers breathe remnants of glass and steel, wood and bone. Later their lungs hurt, like their hearts. 8. Everywhere we breath in fear. At Lincoln Center, the National Guard patrols the opera house. How do we breathe out music. Our bodies alone remember what to do. We return to familiar tasks, fueled by habit. We say we are healing but our children have uneasy dreams and bring terrifying pictures home from school. 9. In the spring, some children go to Camp Grief-Busters Their mothers and fathers have not come home. The children craft figures from balloons and cardboard, Buttons for eyes. Grief Monsters. Not all grief has a face. The teacher says: "Breath in suffering. Give it a texture a temperature,a weight. Then breath out." 10. Winter brings little snow spring brings little rain by August the soil is parched. Gardens fight to blossom. Some plants are lost but others bloom purple and yellow. The earth goes on though under the surface, some roots suffer. Architects draw plans for a memorial. People are unhappy. Too commercial, too high, too low, too small, too cold. There is no design that looks like what we feel. 11. (September 2002) And soon now comes the anniversary. I want to celebrate on a different day You say no, "A day so much was given." But now a day so much was taken away. We are still breathing in pain, and trying to learn how to breath out light. It is so hard. The teacher says: "Practice."
Send comments to peacepoet at aol dot com
Copyright ©2002 by Gail Golden