Phantom Pains

Loss has made me anxious.
I almost typed that to a friend, just now,
but paused, my thumb hovering over the screen,
because who among us hasn’t felt
phantom fears worming through our skin?
Who hasn’t looked at someone else’s scar
and felt the slice of the kitchen knife
six years ago
or, like an arrow
to the wrist, the pancreas,
the brain, felt the sure pang
of grief?

Each goodbye makes me a little less trusting
of my own body, cautious of my pulse
beating under my skin, worried when I see
too many pounds gained or lost. At night,
I feel ghosts, scattered memories, really:
the smell of rosewater lingers in my hair,
the snap of a voice in my ears.

It’s not impossible to pick up the thread
of unfinished grief. The dead leave
most, but not all, of themselves behind,
and it is the part that has gone
that I thought I could hear tonight.
In my heartbeats I could hear
their voices: here, this is yours,
this body and this life
which is more than the mere
weight of you, go, take it and be free.


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