Grief

Every day I walk fence,
pacing an invisible line.

I shift my weight.
One foot to the other.
Turn my head, always to the left,
never the right.

Peering into the dusk
of that other world
where he hovers—tall, thin, pale.
Beside me, but facing
the opposite direction.

I’ve hurt myself.
Pulled a muscle at waistline on my right side,
craning to see. Twisting
myself to search
the shape of his death.

I do stretches to ease the pain.
I sit down. I put my right leg
across my left knee.
I lean forward. I feel the pull in my thigh.

Someone has imposed a screen
along the border between us.
A no man’s land where all color is subtracted
save that of bruises.

Thus when I turn my head
he stands in a night that never truly
falls. His face ashen
above faded denim. Is it accusing,
stunned or merely blank?

My own face is a mask.
It stares at me from the mirror.
In the morning I scrub it
with a soapy cloth. Rub cream
into it, around the eyes,
forehead, cheeks.
I apply gloss to its lips.

If I want to I can make it smile

 

Dianne Stepp

About Dianne Stepp

Born and raised in Portland, Dianne studied first at Portland State, later Antioch University and later still in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Willow Springs, Comstock Review, Clackamas Review, Calyx and Portland Lights. A chapbook, “Half-Moon of Clay” was published by Finishing Line Press. Dianne lives with her husband in southwest Portland on a lush over-sized lot where they raise hens and grow bountiful crops of garlic, beets, spinach, cabbages, figs and more besides.
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