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On the Topic of Grief

Grief is interesting. It doesn’t have an expiration date—grief does not curdle in your mouth like sour milk held on the tongue for too long—but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

You have always been a phantom to me. I cut you off limb by limb but still I felt your hands against my skin, pulling at my body. Your absence cut deep, yet you dragged unkempt nails against exposed marrow, always fighting to hold on.

There are many versions of you overlapping through time and space. For now, you are trapped behind compounding pressure, liquid sand covered in silver. I look in the mirror hoping to catch a glimpse of myself, but all I see is you. Sharp tears slowly trickle from our concrete blue eyes, leaving scars along ancestral cheekbones.

Sacred smoke burns. I breathe it in only to choke on its medicine. You always loved the sound of crackling cedar on open flames. I cautiously scatter evergreen on desert sage as embers flicker. This bowl of ash reminds me of you.

In Indigenous cultures there are Medicine people, there are Shamans, and there are Warriors.

We are none of those things. Not at first glance.

We are Tricksters. We are Backward Spirits living life through a series of contradictions.

I loved you, but my hate for you, my hate for us, consumed me. It ate away at fatty flesh until I became worthy enough to love.

You died the year that I turned thirty.

Closure came in the form of an obituary that I found published on the internet. My mother warned me not to read it.

“Beloved Son.

Best friend and Soulmate to his wife.

Father to Travis”

My father had three children. Two daughters and one son.

I no longer hate you, but forgiveness came too late. Grief is complicated like that. Still I devour parts of you. I devour parts of us. The medicine becomes easier to swallow.

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