Here are a few of the narrator’s journal entries from “The Mourning After”:
Sometimes I wish I could feel more pain
so I could touch that much more beauty.
One final whisper of day.
Wild birds sing their joys out to the setting sun,
and again as it rises in the morning.
Ends and beginnings, all the same.
Some cradle the past like a souvenir snow globe. They may keep shaking it up, or just watch it all settle. They may hide it in a closet, wedged among knickknacks, lucky to get dusted now and then. They may try to lock the door on that closet and quietly move to another town. They may try to smash the globe, but that will only leave shards that can still cut into them when they’re not paying attention; when they’re naked and vulnerable and don’t have their guards up.
I miss you so much in these wee morning hours,
when the depth of the night sets my spirit free.
When the forest is dark, and there doesn’t have to be anything in the world
but the beauty I pull out of it.
I miss you throughout the day,
as I come across glories and wonders that could easily overwhelm me,
but then they just dull because you’re not here to enjoy them.
Far off I heard ominous winds gathering force,
churning trees with massing ferocity;
while around me
all things held and were still.
Except for the anticipation.
The forest is stripped and barren in winter.
I can see too far in. See that no one is there.
Only crows visit now,
in all their squawking arrogance.
Sweet sorrow is but a delicate veneer
over deep, and timeless beauty.
A lifetime is just a beginning.
Death is merely one more step forward.
Rain raked the roof in broken cadence.
Thunder mumbled from beyond hidden crests.
Far above me, treetops creaked, scratched at each other.
Some distant creature howled into emptiness; some wild thing
hiding out the wet loneliness under a rock ledge,
or inside a long-fallen tree.
You can’t seal up long-held anxieties, or squandered loves, in battered cardboard, with masking tape.
They will each find a way to seep through.
As dark boughs and thick night clouds dissolve one into the other;
into, and beyond, the unseeable;
until I can’t tell tree from sky,
what is seen from what is guessed;
one lonely faded star hangs on,
refusing to give up.
With only rustling breezes for company.
Life, death, and on into life again.
It is only our remembering that blinks on and off.
She was a thousand sounds unseen;
frogs and crickets, cicadas, katydids,
visions and memories gone into hiding.
She was secretive as she was blatant,
my emptiness and fullness conjoined.
I felt the love, but couldn’t hold the woman.
Outside the clouding windows,
a few weary leaves
shivered off their last dying hopes
as fragile wood fingers danced back the winter.
It was a dense, moldering night, smelling of damp old basements and times best left unstirred. All those long dark hours, grief-strewn winds wailed through the trees. Calling like tender misplaced memories.