Issue Fifteen - October 2009

For Dana Mullan

By Meredith McKie Griffith

We who live in this country
never become inured from grief.
Each time one falters it is the same:
the raw incomprehension
that this beloved could fade, or fail.

You might think that after a lifetime
of arrivals and departures, of birth and death,
there would come a slow kind of understanding;
we might come to see this place as a transit station of sorts
packed with merry passengers on their ways,
(relatively on schedule)-
“Next stop, Hampstead station!,”
and that sort of thing,
amid the clang of the trains
and the set face of a steady conductor.

With birth, it is one thing –
how easy to welcome the new ones with delight
and untiring awe
at their fresh and wrinkled, scrunched up faces.

But here it is. We grow old.
And still, we stand mute and dumb before a newly made coffin,
blind-eyed with salt
and too stunned to understand
that another has climbed those steps and made her way
to a far destination.