From the Archive: Adrienne Gruber (CAROUSEL 23)
This Is a Book You Shouldn’t Open
In moments like these it’s important to remember
the angry cry of geese, their shrieking voices,
the way they circle the bridge at night.
Not to dwell on a more recent loss
the ominous kind, a warning. Instead,
think of the mouse that died in the compost pit
its body half in half out of the wooden bin
flies buzzing over the tiny carcass.
Days later it was still there, a skeleton,
crushed under foot. Let yourself get sidetracked
with your dog’s death last may, how it took
three shots for her to finally stop moving.
She fought tooth and nail, refused to listen.
How hard you must have tried to comfort her
telling her to let go. She wouldn’t dare.
Her legs shook and her eyes were wild.
Picture the nest of sparrows that fell
last spring during a storm. How you went out
to mow the lawn the next day and found them all dead,
went to bury them and discovered one was alive,
breathing a hundred quick breaths a minute.
Remember how your hands cupped the tiny bird, its beak
snapping at bits of bread and water. Try not to think so much
about love as a loss of being
but think of actual loss, define it.
Store it like a stamp collection, or an album
full of pictures of your grandparents’ relatives.
The pages sticky, the photos smell like vinegar.
This is a book you shouldn’t open.