Grief Postponed

The black wings arc together like a tent you can enter.
Inside it would be beyond gloomy, the feathers on the ceiling
and walls refusing a glimpse of moonlight, refusing even
a crack for the flicker of the fire to remind you of warmth.

It was always there though for the longest time
I pretended not to notice. Instead of stepping inside
I turned away, wore the face of a person who refuses
such a place, the face of one who has never even seen
those wings, more huge than any in the bird book.

People believed I was one who could laugh
and walk in the woods with a dog or two—
a woman whose heavy steps left footprints that filled
and washed away before their depth could be noticed.
People stopped wondering why I avoided feathers
or how I managed to sidestep their awful unmaking.

One day I walked a well-known path through beech woods
the ground squelching, afternoon sliding into dusk.
For years I’d neglected the memory of black feathered wings
but that day as I climbed the stile that led from the trees
into the three-acre field they appeared in the sky.
Buffeted by the breeze they floated down
and settled in front of me. Their archway beckoned.

Judith Barrington

About Judith Barrington

Judith Barrington’s Lifesaving: A Memoir was the winner of the 2001 Lambda Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. She is also the author of the best-selling Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art and three collections of poetry.
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