Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Grief House

There's a house that I know very well, rebuilt over the years
That has now revealed that its skeletal frame is made out of tears
Ducts of worry, sorrow at the joints, and meshed in places by weary tissue
Many of these features were undetected at the initial walk through

The insulation is suspect, for the early builders were optimists
But later additions of redundancy came from the school of realists
Located in the torrid zone, there's always a struggle for ventilation
Thankfully, the last architect made sure there was no need for air conditioning

In that house in just a short period of time, the inhabitants
Have lost their siblings, nephew, and many friends and confidants
They've lost the light, there's no mirth or relief
Rather, they are paying tribute to the laws of grief

True, they have each other to turn to, to share the pain
A paradox, they are surrounded by absences all the same
Straining to recall the earlier moments of tenderness and laughter
That all is not lost, that they can still write new chapters

At the start of last year, they had readied one of the bedrooms
In advance of the summer visit from their son and family that loomed
Freshened and revamped for their grandchildren,
   blue and orange paint was procured
And applied with care but these last would have to make do with a virtual tour

There was also a new study and a flurry of other projects started
But they were all upended by the pandemic, which pulled out the rug
This covidious change of plans, the absence of touch, not even a hug
To lose the joy of a granddaughter running up to you unprompted

No company in the kitchen, to try out the secret recipe,
   no eager food taster
No unending questions asked about everything, no mischief maker
No one to sit in the lap, to tease, and fuss over their hair and apply lotion
Some lessons can only be taught in person, there is no remote option

No one to ask how this retirement home
   came to be surrounded by skyscrapers
Despite the noise,
   the young ones would have surely enjoyed studying the excavators
The Turkish contractors building next door fleeing Erdogan
   were students of G├╝len
Who would now have to make their fortunes in exile in Ghana,
   it was only prudent

The Chinese crew who were busy putting up the other hotel
   had a few rocky moments
When the neighborhood learned these developers
   had just returned from Wuhan province
For a few months it seemed as if the tide would turn against these scapegoat Galamsey
But China recovered, and, with mask diplomacy and more,
   now leads the way

But back to the inhabitants of this house now in isolation
And eerie silence from those who normally brought conversation
Like most of the world, life has made them fretful prisoners
In the past year, it seems as if death was the only visitor

There is neither time nor space to list, so much loss, such an abundance
They've again tasted the essence of solitude
   and the quality of numbness
At a remove across an ocean,
   I've been confronted by the same grief surfeit
Oh to spend even a day in person with this wounded parental unit

It's a selfish concern, I know, but I miss their counsel
Thoroughly unsatisfactory to see them reduced to digital pixels
Of course, I realize that it's plainly the safe choice
But I'm now left with hearing their disembodied voices
Even without network lag, it feels as though there's always a mediator
Thwarted, again and again, by the attack of the viral interloper

Perhaps we'll all eventually get vaccinated
And one day procure the required travel certificates
I envision three generations together again, if life allows
I'd dearly love to enliven the setting of that grief house

secret garden

Missing You, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)
See previously: The Laws of Grief

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: March 9, 2021

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