They let go indiscriminately.
Trees in fall, shedding gently
Their ripened foliage.
Crinkled webs, folds like unturned corners,
Colored in the pallor of death,
In the beauty of a life lived to its fullest,
In the joy of making space for the new.
They dance in a languid, heavy air,
As their home changes,
From the tangled bough on a deciduous tree
Through the solitude of a lone flight
To the earth. Now hidden, now bobbing
Getting lost, found, and lost again,
In everlasting layers of a story
The story of a full life in fall.
I too let go, yet hung on,
To those who grew like leaves
Added color, light, luster,
To my growing bark, my springing shoots,
The being of my tree.
They drew air in, and spewed vapor out,
As they fed on my love,
My strength, my rootedness.
Like creepers they leaned,
As my roots crumbled under the maddening weight,
Of living two lives. Four relationships. Eight break-ups.
And while I whispered to them,
Slipping a breathless word
In between the gusts of wind
Their torrential lives seemed to forever sway through,
I could not let them go.
Our vines intertwined with each other,
My leaves mere containers for
Their crying dew,
Reflecting their glory, silencing their defeat, growing their pride.
I withstood their storm.
Until one day the grapevine
Spewed its hissing secrets.
Opening wounds, cuts, cracks
So raw in their newness
That our old parasite-host symbiosis was severed into rugged halves.
When we parted,
Two trees fell together, in a silent forest.
It was hard to move on from the folds of my best friend’s embrace.
Or from the poetry my soulmate of a friend shared
While walking the urban jungle,
Listening to rustling leaves, bustling lives,
I spent sleepless nights
Dissecting strands, moments, milestones
Forming arguments, hissing curses, mouthing apologies,
Fearing freedom, longing to stand in the storm again.
They were gone.
But I could not let go.
Then I bore fruit.
Two buds of life sprung from my womb.
And I saw in helpless horror
As one sank into the earth,
Never to be seen, or held, again.
My roots rotten, my branches uncertain
Of depths, or directions,
My canopy spread over me like a shroud—
Stifling me, burying me, shutting out the last face of the sun.
I stood still, in a hole not too far from the one
I let my baby go into.
Gradually, leaves grew back.
Relentlessly sprouting through the cracks,
Like a habit, like a disease,
Like life itself that just. Doesn’t. Let. Go.
I was standing still.
And yet, leaves gathered their stories around me again,
Their histories, their laughter, their loves, their wars.
A new friend who saw my little girl.
Another, who knew me before, through, and after she was gone.
I let them come.
I did not wake up
When their worries made small wounds on my skin.
I did not blink
When their triumphs rained and I was drained
Of the last drop of life.
But I let them grow on me, watching in silence,
As they wove their leaved lives around my broken, but sustaining,
Then one day, they started falling
One by one.
It was the season, so no one asked for reasons
For the sudden abandon.
I stared. I offered my twisted arms,
Yet they would not hold on.
So they fell to the end of their times
In my cavernous life. Off my ruinous world they went,
And I let them go.
I shed them all, I did not shed a breath.
I let her, in a square white box, go become her absence,
I let her breath go, the light from her eyes go,
I let her tiny body go cold, stiff, bitter.
I let seasons, lives, this earth, go
On without her.
Go. Go. Go. If you can’t stay, sway, or stop, please, just go. On, off, under, away. Go. Go. Go.
And so, as the sun dawns on my empty branches,
Bringing with it the leaves of a million lives,
Seasonal soulmates, lovers, stories, histories,
My wounds dry into an eternal winter white
Tears frozen with invisible snow.
And I live forever, crouching in the skeleton of cold death,
Even as leaves and lives spring, bloom, are shed,
As ritualistic offerings to the changing earth,
The fleeting air, the settling sky.
I live while letting go,
As I have died while letting go.
How are you doing on letting go—of things, memories, beliefs, habits, or people, after your loss(es)? Has removing real or metaphorical clutter from your life gotten easier or tougher post-loss?