Mo(u)rning Rituals by Heidi Slettedahl

Mo(u)rning Rituals

In my arms she is an accustomed weight and almost carelessly transferred,
my right hip jutting out, my white blouse creased
in patterns her kicking heel repeats.

It is the carelessness that gives away the dream.

She is hot against me, leaning too close, reaching.
I shake away her grasping fingers, her urge to crook a pinkie in the perfect gold hoop in my ear, tug
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .down.

Looking at someone else, I talk above her,
sensing only gradually my arm asleep beneath me,
her sticky heat a damp mattress in a hot and sunny room.

Her weight disperses as she fades.

I grope for a thin glass cylinder, shaken down, muting me.

He stirs beside me, sees the spear in my mouth, and shuts his eyes again.

I hate this ritual.
Not yet, not yet.
Not ever.

I cannot think that and I do, my thoughts helpless partners tied by the wrists, facing outwards,
facing away.
To pull against is to tighten the knots.

His hands reach for me . . . . . . . .I shake my head.
No, I say, it’s not time, I say.

I think he is relieved.

Today, I think, I will not conjure her; she will not fill the spaces in my day.
Today, I promise, I will not recall that careless weight, a conversation that goes on above her head.

It is the carelessness I crave,
the fact she is not central to my dream.

by Heidi Slettedahl

Editor’s Note: True grief is when the body remembers, without conscious thought, the feeling of love that is missing, yet what is even more difficult is the disappearance of normal.