Praise and grief sleep together in the same bed.
It has taken many months for her dreams to wither,
and many months more for her to endure the ache
of the implacable unraveling of hope, until even
its papery husk, despite her care, has been snipped
away, swept away, like dust into the corners of the
house that had once been theirs.
The door of their home has slammed behind
him for the last time as the door of his heart has
also closed. He drives out of the yard away
from her and from their children and from
all their dreams to another woman’s bed, in
another woman’s house, and to another woman’s
future that never will be hers.
The vineyard they were going to build together
surrounds her like a shipwreck. The life she
had imagined bleeds out of barrels into pools
of vinegar on a dusty floor. In her dreams, yellow
butterflies float above the puddles, but when she
enters the wreckage with eyes wide open the butterflies
are buried under dust, rat droppings and cobwebs.
At least her children are safe, the boy and girl
curled up in darkness in their blankets, while
in her room she writes beneath a cone
of yellow light, beneath the weight of
all her years of broken promises until she finally
breaks apart in the tide of tears she always
carried in her heart and always will.
Let her time of grief be our time of praise: She will
clean and oil every rusty tool in the winery and
sell the vinegar for less than half its worth when
it was wine, content to know that it will
nourish people she will never meet. Watch her
plant raspberries in the ruins. Hear her sing in the
kitchen as she cooks her children’s breakfast.
Under moonlight in her empty room let her type
as an offering to strangers the words she has been
wounded into writing. Let her wrestle with the
loneliness she thought would cripple her. When the
morning light arrives, watch her dance in the
autumn-colored dress she has stitched together
out of butterflies and dust and the sea inside her.
© 2010 J.M. Keating