“Grief” by Barbara Crooker

is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I’m not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I’m going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.
I don’t want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
It’s mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me
in its yellow shawl, and the air is sweet
as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
there are apples, grapes, walnuts,
and the rocks are warm from the sun.
But I’m going to stand here,
growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb. I can’t cross over.
Then you really will be gone.


Poem copyright ©2013 by Barbara Crooker, “Grief” (Gold, Cascade Books, 2013).

8 thoughts on ““Grief” by Barbara Crooker

  1. I cried when I read this poem, but then I have been crying for months now, stuck in the middle of a river of grief. This poem in itself is a yellow shawl, air ripe with a golden tokay. Thank you Barbara and Christina.


      1. Thank you Christina. Robert has a terrible condition called Lewy Body Dementia, and needs constant help and supervision. After almost five years of this (and 56 years of marriage), I transferred him into a memory care unit of a nursing home this week. I am praying he will/can adjust, and I’ll be spending most of my days there with him until I see that he’s settled in. The poems you send really are light and comfort.


  2. Robert E Buntrock

    Barbara, I had no idea about the health status of your husband, my sympathies. In the case of my wife’s deterioration and death 17 months ago, she had been suffering from post-shingles neuralgia for 4 year prior plus a couple of unrelated operations. As she lapsed into incurable stomach cancer, the treatments produced even more pain. She also had increasing memory problems but I think that was due to chronic pain and the drugs she took for pain alleviation. As a result I announced her death as she was pain-free and at peace at last. She was in home hospice for 4 days until we had to take her to the hospital for palliative care.

    Thanks you for putting your thoughts and emotions into poetry. Since I’m not able to do that I’m glad that you can


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