A lesson

Death teaches us meaning
      of the word sudden —
one minute there, one minute
            not —

the blackness, the blankness,
the emptiness, the silence, the void —
the most palpable, oppressing nothing
      there ever was.

—Terri Guillemets

Lost in thought

We’ve lost, we’re losing,
it’s so much loss, too much.

But the clouds are rolling
and the breeze is blowing
and nature is so beautiful
and the dried delicate leaves
are doing their dance of balance
between hanging on and falling away
amidst their wintry shiverings —

they love the wind
for helping them let go —

they fall to the ground
and the gentle rain comes
and helps them nourish the earth.

A gray bird lands on a bare gray branch
both unadorned, yet so, so beautiful.
And the leaves are drifting
and our lives are drifting
and loss is just another form of beauty.

—Terri Guillemets

Afloat on hope

a viral magic act —
making all disappear
except essentials
and our souls are tore down
emotions tested
communities spread thin
but never so together —

fear and negative mindsets
purpose and positive actions
our generosity unmasked
inspiration is contagious

we live, we die;
we survive, but barely —

it’s been so long
we are getting sick of this, but
it’s gotten us closer to ourselves
even as we distance from others

some have perspective
others have only anger

a year of stern warning from
mother nature that many won’t heed
suffering, separation, and need —
a year of gratitude and pain
a year of disorder, loss and gain —
yes, many gifts too — science, love
veiled blessings, principle, priorities
months were lost but not the lessons

we have homework: wrest the energy
to begin our rock-bottom rebuilding

—Terri Guillemets

Vanished

i hurt every day remembering
that i wasn’t there for you
the hardest day of suffering
— i left you painfully alone
when you needed me most
so damn close, but not there
which is the farthest away —
i was a fool, oblivious numbskull
a frozen hearted ragdoll zombie

—Terri Guillemets

Death lights heavy

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

Arms fall off a saguaro,
break open on the ground
like fragile eggshells —
after years 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

A January day that lives forever

In my mind —
      I’ve tried a million
      times to go back
      to that day —
tried to change
      my choices
begged a do-over
      from the universe
I’ve crippled myself with
      guilt
      sorrow
thrashing the quicksand
      sinking in
      layers of grief
fighting a sticky web
      trapped in
      regret-regret-regret
I don’t even care about
      my own
      broken heart
I’m sorry
      I broke yours

—Terri Guillemets

Memories shiver

Why does cold weather refresh old griefs?
      More quiet for reflection?
      Longer nights to lay awake?
Like citrus, grief is a winter fruit.

—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

This time last year

The shadows are falling the same as they were last year
The early summer calm sounds the same as it did last year
As it did at this same time last year, when the babies died
When the babies died, and the mama grieved for days.

—Terri Guillemets