"This work is unlike any other, in its range of rich, conjuring imagery and its dexterity, its smart voice. Carroll-Hackett doesn’t spare us—but doesn’t save us—she draws a blueprint of power and class with her unflinching pivot: matter-of-fact and tender." —Jan Beatty
This week I keep going back to a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, about grief, about sheer physicality of grief and loss. About feeling helpless. About how loss, no matter what, belongs to all of us.
I Want to Bring the Birds
inside, hold them in my hands, tuck them inside my shirt, claws and all, feel the sharp tic of each frightened beak, surround them with my fingers, cradle them against the cage of my ribs, whisper shh shh shh—until they each find and linger in their place: the titmice tatting nests into my hair, crested sparrows and juncos perched and singing from my feet, the jays who see me as so much meat, supplier of suet and otherwise foolish and useless, each take a shoulder, their alarm squawk sudden and hard as a couple of crows stand sentry on my back. The chickadees, those flying golf balls with their punk rock eyes and ebony mohawks, bossy and brazen, take my ears, letting me know just how they see this whole thing going, while the shy nuthatch hides, its cinnamon shadow disappearing under my shirt as it hops up my ribs and nuzzles in like a newborn near my heart. A pair of doves, and then another, their wings ash gray and spotted with apricot, nestle in on the soft give of my belly; I touch them with just the tips of my fingers, hoping, praying, they’ll teach me the tender songs only possible in the dark. One by one, they all settle in, on my limbs, my skin, feathering, resting, and maybe, so will I, settle for real, for the first time in years, as I hear and feel their heartbeats steady, slow, ease finally, into a companion rhythm with my own. Or mine to theirs? In my dreams, it doesn’t matter. In my dreams,we are the same.
I have Complicated Grief-Related PTSD. Some days I’m okay. Some days I think I’m okay, then I’m just—not, not okay at all.
Make art about grief.
The only way I have survived the extreme loss I’ve experienced in my life is by making a choice every day, sometimes every moment, to live not in grief, but in Gratitude.
Make art about Gratitude.
Both my sons were home this weekend, and one of my greatest joys is to see them together as grown men, not just brothers, but friends. My best friend was my brother, and my oldest son once said, “How cool it is—to find your own best friend right in your family!”