God Makes Birds and Kills Them Too: a poem on how not to cope with loss

 Well…is there a right way to cope with loss?

When my brother smiled, his eyes
looked like the seagulls I drew
when we were children. Thin,
crescent curves, I drew them like m’s,
out of the charcoal Dad would bring
from the station. My brother would tell me
how boring I was, sitting at home, coloring.
Playing. Imagining. He said he would grow up
to be just like Dad, living in a real
fire-blazoned world, saving lives,
reassuring them with firm eyes
that fire was nothing to be afraid of;
nothing would hurt him. He was invincible.
Just like Dad.

But it’s been twenty years since I last
drew those black m‘s flying away.
At twenty-four, my brother learned
Dad was not invincible. Not to the fire
down on 90 Summit Ave.

He has his father’s eyes
was the only line we heard that day,
as he carried the bronze casket down
the aisle. And at night, we quenched
the pain with death’s old friend, Whiskey.
Mom brought out Dad’s good scotch
and three shot glasses. And we parted
to sleep. But the sound of glass woke me;
my brother had hurled the bottle
towards the wall, amber liquid
dribbling down, drenching the white walls
and the awkward silence
as Mom collapsed, angry.

And he did,
exiting so completely, the picture frames
shook off all the good and bad memories,
our glass Jesus-in-a-snow-globe quivering
on its shelf, our world shaken
by the ones who left. He shut the door
too hard, never came back afterwards.
Mom said that night, she might’ve died
if he hadn’t stopped her. And her pride
got in the way of mending the absence
he left. Probably too embarrassed
to look into the eyes of the man
who saved her. Even when he had a child.

Mom missed her grandson’s first birthday,
but I shared photos of the baby,
she said his smile reminded her
of my brother’s lidded laughter,
the same black m‘s from years ago,
and she told me how special it was
that his baby had our father’s eyes.

This poem is not based on true events in my life. But looking through my portfolio, there are several poems written about the death of “my” father. Most of them have yet to be shared, though one poem made it through to my collection, somehow. But let’s stay on track. As I was reading through my old and new writings, there was a common theme in a few of them … it was always about the loss of “my” loved one.

And I put “my” in quotes because the narrator in my poems is an embodiment of me, my thoughts, and my values…but her stories do not (always) reflect true events in my life. Sometimes, it’s my story. Sometimes, it’s another person’s story. Sometimes, it’s my story taken in a different direction. And sometimes, it’s based on emotions, characters, or events that I’ve fabricated, as a challenge to myself.

But a lot of times, I write about death.

There was a period of time where I was almost repulsed with myself for writing so much about losing someone close to me. And if I really digest it, it’s probably because losing someone is my greatest fear.

And writing about death and its effects is a way for me to (this is gonna sound morbid) prepare for losing someone, in case it actually happens. It’s a way to fossilize my fear until I’m no longer scared of losing anyone.

Or maybe it’s because I have daddy issues.


Haha. I’m just kidding (kinda).

Anyway…just curious…who else writes about topics/subjects they haven’t fully experienced? Do you think there are any topics that are off-boundaries for those who have not experienced it?

i.e. Death? War? Domestic abuse? Motherhood? Etc…

Or should a writer be allowed to write about any topic? Let me know what you guys think!



Comments 2

  1. Taruna June 13, 2018

    Writing about something you have not experienced is a great quality.
    We all need to be able to ‘put ourselves in the shoes of others’ This allows empathy, understanding and many other better human qualities enabling us to live with tolerance and acceptance. To be able to communicate this and write, whether fiction or non, is a service and privilege…
    write away..


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