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Claire Donohoe, Location: Off Campus

Grief (Part 2)

It’s February and I am an MSU student. I do not know what to say except it feels like learning a language, this broken grief. It comes to me in flashes, fragments, woven into a culture created by the hum of my TV. When the world turns at night, I whisper to myself in the dark of my room. Oftentimes, nothing comes out. I wonder how long we are going to go around like this.

I am still thinking about time. Thinking about people, and their siblings, and all the people that know someone who could have been a millionaire or a mother or twenty years old. I want to know what their favorite song was when they were small. I want to know what they would want us to do now.

I miss to be young. What I mean is, I miss to not know this was going to happen. I miss to not know I would need a metaphor for grief. These days, it seems too easy to lose. It’s hard to beat time, hard to feel good when you do, hard to wake up and hope today might be any more forgiving.

It’s like learning a language, this grief. And I am going to cut my tongue on every word until I am fluent in the act. I think I will grieve until I die. Until it eats me up and replants me in the backyard of the home it has built for itself. My roommate said that once you learn to read you just always know how to read. I think I get it. I do not know what to call grief now but I am going to learn every word of this process – how to name it, where to store it, what to mix with it. I am going to learn. I am going to know all of it one day.

Today I think grief is the crying sky. Grief is driving home. Grief is Free Hugs. Grief is the campus Union still standing. Grief is resuming a degree. Grief is receiving the degree. Grief is the gap between the bones in your chest. Grief is learning that you need a space in your bones to feel. Grief is all-knowing. Grief is a self-invite. Grief is the swelling pit in my stomach. Grief cooks me dinner and then watches it go cold next to me. Grief is the broken-in couch. It is the quietest, loudest thing I know. It is the sidewalk chalk, it is every flower, every text, every billboard on the way back into campus. It is a feeling forever on its way home to me. I think I have known grief for a long time, and I think it will come home to me again. I think it has always known me.

And it’s everywhere, this language. I am hearing words I have only noticed before in nightmares. I have never learned them but somehow they come to me with ease. I know this feeling in my mouth. It is back home again. I mistake it for my voice, sit heavily with it, and yell. Nothing much comes out. I woke up and I am still freshly 20. Today I consider this a feat. I have faith in the flame of our generation but you know how long fires burn. You know we are getting good at dousing the ruins. I want us to grow up. I might shout about this until I am fluent in the act. I wonder how long it will take me. It’s February and I am an MSU student. That is the poem. This is how it’s going. I do not have the words for this right now, but trust me when I say one day I will know every word.

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