“I Have To Tell You” by Dorothea Grossman

I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.

Dorothea Grossman via Poetry Magazine (March 2010)


* Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you every day.

“My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.”

Sharon Doubiago


“Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens (Yusuf)

12 thoughts on ““I Have To Tell You” by Dorothea Grossman

  1. Mike Mirarchi

    I love this poem, Christina! It’s so short, and so poignant. It really captures the pain of losing a love. That’s something I love about poetry — how just a handful of words, if they’re the right words arranged in the right order, can pack so much punch.

    This poem makes me think of this quote from the movie French Kiss: “After a time you will forget. First, you will forget his chin, and then his nose, and after awhile, you will struggle to remember the exact color of his eyes, and one day you wake up and, pfft, he’s gone: his voice, his smell, his face. He will have left you. And then you can begin again.”

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    1. I do like that quote, Mike, thank you. I used to worry about forgetting her—if you click that “Happy Birthday Mom” link you can see that fear, and also why I don’t write much poetry anymore, lol—but I realize how silly that fear is now. I will never forget her. Never. Nor will I ever want to. I’d have to forget to breathe.

      We don’t have to forget in order to begin again. We don’t even necessarily have to begin again. Everything is transitory. Everything is connected. We just carry on, we develop scar tissue. We just breathe.

      Sometimes the memories hit me out of nowhere, like a flash of blinding light. Some random memory from normal life, and all the sudden I’m in the kitchen sitting at our small table stacked with mail and books, while my mom stands at the green stove frying bacon in her red turtleneck, her strawberry blonde hair tucked messily behind her left ear, singing an old Cat Stevens song slightly off-key, and then she’s asking me if I want some eggs too, and the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and I feel its warmth through the kitchen window while I look at her and I say “Yes. Definitely.” And she smiles and says, “Me too, why don’t you scramble some up for us?” And I smile realizing she tricked me into cooking eggs, and I don’t mind at all. I would cook eggs for her every single day if I could. And then the memory passes, just like a fleeting cloud. And all I can do is feel grateful, for it, for her, for scrambled eggs and bacon, for everything.

      We all grieve in our own ways, but that has been my experience.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike Mirarchi

        Your memory of your mom in the kitchen is so beautiful, Christy! I understand about not wanting to forget her. It’s funny, I always read the the Grossman poem as a poem about the loss of a romantic partner. But now I see how it’s just as poignant as a poem about the loss of any loved one.

        And holy crap, I love that poem you wrote! So poignant! It really is brilliant! ❤

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      2. Well, like Cheryl Strayed wrote in one of my favorite essays, “My mother was the love of my life.” My first love, my best friend, my confidante…so your first instincts about the loss of a romantic partner aren’t too far off 🙂 don’t you love how a poem can can change and alter depending on our mood or what personal stories we may bring to it? That’s one reason I don’t do much analysis or poetry dissection, or even pairings….everyone brings their own experiences to a poem, and I rarely want to alter, affect or override them.

        And ha! You really are too kind. I don’t consider myself a very good poet, but a handful are very special to me, including that one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh and please know, Mike, that I wasn’t directing my comment AT you, just speaking more in general about my experience with grief, and how, while I liked that quote, I didn’t necessarily agree with it.

      You are super kind and thoughtful, and since I rarely share much “personal” stuff here, there’s no reason you would know my mom had died Funny, but before she died, I wanted to to numb my pain and emotion; after she died, I wanted to feel and remember EVERYTHING.

      Didn’t plan to go on and on, but it felt really nice to write again. Thank you for that, and for your kindness. ❤️ Christy

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      1. Mike Mirarchi

        No worries, Christy. I totally understand. I agree with the movie quote when it comes to grieving the loss of a romantic partner (the quote reflects my experience), but I totally understand how you want to feel and remember everything about your mom. Your poem really moved me, which is why I love it so much. ❤

        And I, too, love that about poetry — how a poem can change depending on our mood or the personal stories we bring to it. It's so cool how when you read a poem from a different perspective, it suddenly becomes a totally different poem!

        Do you have a link to that Cheryl Strayed essay? I'd love to read it. I really loved the movie Wild. And I'm glad my first instincts about loss of a romantic partner weren't too far off. 🙂

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      2. Mike Mirarchi

        Holy crap! That essay really is gut-wrenching! I loved it. So powerful! I could relate to using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with loss. I haven’t read her book, “Wild.” Only seen the movie. And I haven’t read “Dear Sugar.” When the dust settles from my Christmas shopping, I’ll see if I still have enough money left to spring for it. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you too, Mish. I’m sorry you get it, but I’m grateful you do. If that makes sense. You helped me so much to be able to get to this point of gratitude. I miss her—every day—but just like you I am learning that joy can still be possible. It can coexist with the grief. It’s not an either or. ❤️

      (I have my word for the year, too!)

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