Stigmata

A grief poem for Lent

Grief creeps in

at first unnoticed,
unrelated to thought.

It descends slowly,
uninvited
sly and clammy
like fog.

Without warning, her eyelids
grow heavy and wet
a stinging sensation in her throat
shifts to her chest
belly heaving.
Legs immobilized, feet stick to the floor.
A face across the table saying what?

Then the memories
a smile, a laugh, that yearned-for familiar voice.
Their sorrow, her child’s and her own.

They say that to be a mother
is to have your heart walking around in someone else’s body.

What they say is true.

But wait!
When that someone else dies
what becomes of her heart that
was carried in that dear body? Turns out,
it was the most fragile of things.
Who knew it was made of spun glass so delicate that when it fell,
it shattered into exactly
Seventeen thousand
five hundred eight slivers.

No restoring that.

And so, she scooped them up and carries them around everywhere she goes. Every grieving mother has a stigmata
on the palms of her hands.

Everyone can see it.
They just need to look.

Marguerite Sexton 3.6.19