the white-eater

too many days since i’ve put down words. too few reasons for this absence.

when i wrote first of my father and his passing i thought there, that’s it, i’ve defined the landscape of my grief, and open, now, i can begin to find my way forward.

i was so excited, so anxious to give out my words, new-found, new-formed. i wanted them used, used, and falling from me like flakes of snow. a blizzard of syllables to cover the wound i had now laid bare.

determined not to write about my dad, i stubbornly refused to look behind. i had no interest in returning to that darkness, of letting every post become a signpost of my sorrow. i couldn’t bear it. so i settled myself, fingers to keys and watched, dismayed, as my mouth fumbled open, as my words landed heavy in a heap and a jumble and a conflation of confusion.

but still i flung it onto my site as hurriedly as i’d written it, still, knowing that it was wrong, an obfuscation that touted transparency, a trite treatise that said nothing, more than nothing, the meaning deliberately mistaken and the pain merely hidden, hibernating.

desperate, irrational, i began to think, became convinced, that once the snow fell i could go. i could move, finally, start. the barrenness outside had somehow translated into the emptiness inside. i couldn’t find the reference, absurd, really, that i thought i could mark a path through wilderness. what boundaries could be defined when there was no limit to my edges, when the blue or the grey or on the thin, terrifying days, the green tinge of sky reached on and on and past my understanding of the horizon? i wanted everything in white; i wanted the purity of a burial, of a new beginning, and a fragile, clear hope. i wanted the white all around me. i wanted the white within.

so i waited. i thought the words would show themselves to me, in the drop of a leaf, in the sky that promised a fulsome fall, in the frozen ground underfoot. so i looked. every day i looked. but all i saw was a separation, a losing of the light, a chipping away of the world beneath me, within me, while i stood, uncertain and staring at a plain still bare of sense.

and then, a month or more past, a storm. at last, some snow. it came upon me suddenly, nothing to herald its havoc, gale winds and flakes the size of regrets and i was so unprepared, with only a sweater to protect me, frozen and afraid and out of breath with the force of it. wiping the snow from my body, i understood it’s familiarity, its coldness drenched deep, passing through all my layers, and thought ah, so here it is, what it was, when i spent my tears and found my words. this upon me is what i had within me. months ago. now.

i thought it was a sign. a posting of notice that the natural order of things had returned.

but it melted. all of it. away. and since then, nothing. the ground is back to bones. the sky devoid of vowels. the surface remains uncovered, awkward and raw.

so this is where i am. striking my words onto paper, into the air before me, but with a head still half-turned to the shadows.

here i am, stumbled, fallen, the days passing, closing in perfect shape around me, like an insect frozen in the viscous now, in the middle ground between back then and what’s to be.

the snow will come again. it has to. and when it does, i will welcome it with my mouth open to the lowering clouds, and i will eat it like words, like a numbing love, light upon the tongue, hoping that the flurries inside will last ‘til spring.

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