There has to be a reason
tucked inside this gift,
something you can unwrap
the way we unwrap bandages
and see scars
(scars that prove we are alive).
But death is not as easy as that,
not half as easy
as scars we carry on our skin.
These scars sear the soul
and heal over—sometimes red,
sometimes clean as surgery.

They do not fade.
They never whisper,
“This is the reason for the season.”
We just have to guess.

Maybe grief is a babushka doll
God wraps in death and hands to us
to remind us to keep peeling back the layers.
No matter how many times
you lift a face from a nest of faces,
another face appears,
until your loved-and-lost one
gets smaller and smaller, the size of matter,
yet is always there,
always whole and holy,
powerful in his infinitude, or hers,
or his and hers or his and hers,
and all God’s creatures too,
everything that lives and dies
and shrouds itself in something
finer than linen—a mystery, a gift,
a grief that never lets us finish opening it.
This has to teach us something.

Or maybe grief is a bird trapped in a room
like a soul trapped in a body.
Maybe opening this gift
is as easy as opening a window.

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