The Process

Updated on January 30, 2018
Loss is a shadow that follows you even when it's dark out.
Loss is a shadow that follows you even when it's dark out. | Source

The Process

He cleans out the desk drawer,

finding poems and letters
in a folder labeled “Love in 3 Persons.”

In the background, we hear The Host
of a podcast interviewing an astronomer
who says, "It’s becoming more and more clear
that Mars was once a life-bearing planet."

LETTER #1: One Month in

They’re planning resorts on Mars.
So eager to leave the soil that holds
memories of their relatives.

Your jacket is a ghost:
a tabernacle
emptied of its body,
still contains receipts

and hospital bills
next to empty gum wrappers
and folded sticky notes.

The last fragments of winter’s perfume,
trapped in the thick fabric.
A stain
that loosely resembles an eye.

Two hairs stuck in the zipper,
faded color on the sleeves:
how threadbare you were
towards the end.

I left the calendar on your side of the bed
unchanged. Still,
April never starts.

The drought loiters
in the bathroom: depleted
prescription bottles,
dog-eared magazines.

Rummaging for passwords
to transfer your bank accounts.
Too sudden for a will: debt
and possession are shadows in the room.

LETTER #2: One Year in

The moon is a fossil:
a cold bone that scaffolds
and balances the movement

of our body, the reflective
corpse in constant waltz,
a thought that separated

long ago, but remains tethered
by the intangible puller/pusher.

The moon is a dream canvas:
a blank space that distracts,

preoccupies, and obscures
the beauty of the endless black,

through which I hear Dr. Mathisen's voice,
nebulous and distorted, saying,
"You seem to be having trouble letting go."

200 mg of Lamictal.
100 mg of Seroquel.
Slowly weaning off Xanax.
Abilify has too many side effects.

I’m starting to think
there’s no cure for being human.

LETTER #3: Ten Years in

Your mother died last week. She missed you every day. I hope the two of you are
together. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Mary and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. The years keep speeding up. George and Cayla are 3 and 4 now.

Do you remember how I hated dancing before you made me go to that Tango class? You should see Cayla dance. I showed her the Media Luna using the advice you gave me.

LETTER #4: Twenty-Three Years in

Sun-stained floorboards,
the trampoline’s rusted springs
on the unkempt grass:

the kids have outgrown their chores
and we boxed up the toys
and sold the chest to a young couple

from the city. You’re wedding ring
is in storage along with your jacket
and that copy of Orlando you kept

with the worn out spine
and the missing pages.

Today’s my birthday
and I’m drinking
the whiskey we bought
on our first anniversary.

LETTER #5: 30 Years in

Good news today. George was accepted into the Dartmouth School of Law.
I always hated how easy it was for him to beat me in an argument. It’s an odd feeling when your kids become smarter than you. Cayla keeps offering to help pay my medical bills, but Mary and I are too stubborn to accept. The cancer has spread to my lymph nodes and Dr. Morris says this will be my last year. You never seemed as scared as I am? Were you just better at hiding it? Mary says she’d feel strange remarrying, but I know from experience how important it is to keep loving. I never thought I could love another person as much as I loved you.

Mary says that 58 is too young to die, but you were so much younger. She asks that you take care of me in the afterlife. She keeps getting more and more religious, but I remain uncertain. Still, you know what they say about soldiers in foxholes.

There's something about dying that makes certainty look childish.
I’m keeping these letters in the inner pockets of your jacket

just in case I don’t see you again.

Questions & Answers


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      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 5 weeks ago from Canada

        Thank you Nicholas, 'The Process' is poignant and perfect. Encapsulates the mundane moments that make life profound. Much appreciated.