Spiraling

midlife changes curled-up
forties are fiddlehead ferns
it doesn’t look like much
until it becomes unfurled
and once we get it open
things may break apart —
eventually nests unwind
but will we bear fortitude
to turn that new life into
something just as beautiful
and yet even more free
spiraling towards fifty?

—Terri Guillemets

Riven

joyful forty, forty-one
it was just getting good
i was just getting started
and then cruel life
dealt blow after blow
for year after year
with death and strife
thieving my calm
and ova and sight
healers and patches
blessed the rocky way
but nothing’s the same —
what of me remains?
stitches and fray

—Terri Guillemets

Umber

there are only so many poems one can write
about umber tree roots and the glowing moon
before the psyche starts crying out to be heard
the suffering of the world isn’t poetic
but it is essential to poetry

—Terri Guillemets

2020

canceled, isolated, distanced
dazed, befuddled, harried
rationed, washed, disinfected
zoomed, homeschooled
furloughed, fired, scared
impoverished, subsidized
learned, helped, sacrificed
inspired, respected, thanked
hospitalized, intubated, died
lied, gaslighted, denied
masked, tested, untested
endured, abided, accepted
annoyed, outraged, protested
anticipated, waited, voted

—Terri Guillemets

Death lights heavy

Hummingbird mama —
abandons her nonviable eggs
but keeps checking back
a few more times, just to be sure.

Nested arms fall off a saguaro,
break open on the ground
like fragile eggshells —
after decades of desert still-life
a few seconds of death-motion.

But the night breeze is so beautiful
those breezes are — so beautiful,
it’s hard not to get swept away.

—Terri Guillemets

Memorial

grieving makes us stronger —
it gives us a spirit of grace
      and the grace of spirit
our hearts feel weaker
      but living past loss is
      the ultimate courage
we honor our loved ones
      by living on despite —
      and all the more because

—Terri Guillemets

Forever lit with the soul of another

Immediate grief —
      a falling to the knees
      a bleeding of the heart
      a blow to the soul

Ongoing grief —
      a getting up
      a call to move on
      a healing & strengthening
      a melding of soul
            with sorrow
            with loss
            with life
      a transformation of self
            to renewed being
            rebuilt with the
            leavings of another

—Terri Guillemets