Common Grief

by HemmingPlay

A local story tells
of a dam that blocked a creek in late ’60.
The water rose, year by year,
seeped over a poor family’s
rocky homestead,
the one that was supposed
to be an assured future.
58 years under
the dark, cool waves,
bass and perch swimming past
foundation stones covered in mud and algae.
The loss of a dream
is a reason
the family gives to the reporter
for failures.
They might be right. But…
If only they’d found another dream.

A WWII bomber is found in the
mud of a bay in New Guinea, and a name
thought lost to an era before
plastic, is reclaimed.
A niece, nearly 60, gets the call and walks into
the street, cries openly.
“I don’t know where that comes from,”
she tells a reporter through sobs. “I never knew my

A neighbor in his late 80s,
back from the grocery.
He fed my dog another biscuit,
leans on a cane, his back twisted. He told
of a son’s suicide years ago.
Over a woman.

He shakes his head.
His beautiful boy,
Lost over a woman.
His wife died 12 years ago,
He talks about them both
quietly, all alone now, still
coaches little league,
loves dogs,
and lives with loss.
“She likes her biscuits,” he says
looking at bright, eager eyes,
gives the dog another and laughs.

A few doors further,
on the other side of the street, dark-haired
Michelle puts down a rake and
comes to pet my dog.
She lost her black Lab
two weeks before, and
was quiet, remembering.
She glanced through the dark
rectangle of their screen door,
source of the sounds of TV,
said her children were still sad, too.
She just wanted to
touch what she’d lost
for a moment.

Things that never used to touch me,
all the pains and burdens ordinary people
carry with such quiet dignity,
Well…I just didn’t want to see.
They’re all with me now,
and it’s both comfort and rebuke:
there but for the grace of God…
And I consider my sins anew.
Everyone has a story. So many stories…

“I never knew that life was loaded…
I never knew that things exploded

I only found it out when I
was down upon my knees,
looking for my life.”
–George Harrison




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