We Cannot Possibly Expect This Constricting
American Ritual to Contain Our Grief with Any Degree of
On a freezing October night,
I want to strip to my bare flesh.
Branch by branch,
I want to build a tower of fire:
heat and light.
Drunk or high,
I am the wailing woman
lost to the diaspora. I want to smear
my entire body in clay or paint or ash,
and circle the flame with sisters
who understand why.
I want it to end in rain,
this ritual, every night, every month, every year.
I want the gods to acknowledge
that I cannot find my breath,
and wash me clean
again and again and again.
The tidy process—with the cards
and the flowers and the donations en lieu
and the casseroles—
can go fuck itself.
I want it to be as chaotic,
dark and loud as I feel.
Then, I want it to be gray, a mime,
as I know it will be,
refusing to pack its bags
at the appropriate time.
Jennifer Haas obtained a BA from the University of Texas. She
currently has a significantly more delightful time than expected
homeschooling, and volunteers to help women with breastfeeding.
She writes in the mountains of California in the dark of night
when her four young children are sleeping sweetly and her
husband is away at the fire station. Her poem, They Are Chopping
Down My Tree Tomorrow, can be read in Squat.