Grief, Carrying

—after Amber Flame
—for Tahlequah

Mother, I know grief is an ocean too vast
to swallow, pulling at our womanhood with
sharpened teeth, blood all in the water,

beckoning hurt. Guilt the way we cut at
ourselves, bodies against rock, beached
until burning.

Mother, you have travelled so far, brought
your pain to the surface again and again,
held back against your calling, fell onto

that which you cannot be, pulling until, it
too, begins to rot. A child loved but
gone, a weight heavy with sorrow.

Mother, once I saw a pod of your sisters and
I wept and wept, wanted to swim until I broke
against the surf, become something outside

of this body, all barren and wasted. Knew I will
not have children and cried for myself. Called
myself selfish. Called myself merciful.

Mother, when my grandmother learned she too
wept salt, remembered her own beckoning,
her hurt, giving birth to an end.

The lack. Blamed herself until it became
mantra, soften prayer against her body, her

Mother, one day the foam will take you, and
it will not ask you to beg forgiveness but it
will give you peace, and it will carry you

against the current, and I will drink from the
water until I cannot drink anymore, and I will
not give birth, but I will hold myself against

my becoming and grieve what I cannot be
and forgive.