by Alison Hurwitz
It pushes through the door like this: at a nearby table, a little boy
extends his arms, is lifted into Grandpa’s lap. Before I can
order, absence serves a plate of empty in my chest and I come
unlaminated at the corners, my menu seeping wet, illegible.
Grief grows, wads what I cannot swallow,
cached behind a napkin. It expands until
my throat has colonized my tongue, words congealing
into mute and heavy wedges, sick with longing.
I try reason: Now is not convenient: I just painted
on a face to face the other faces. What about some other time
when I’m alone, or better yet, let’s not do brunch. Perhaps
a walk? Of course, it doesn’t listen.
Grief raves and rants, throwing tantrums
on the griddle, spitting oil and water, making messes:
mascara, hashbrowns, pride.
Grief is its own scene. Everybody sees, yet
averts their gaze, as if oblivion could ever be
believable, but now I’ve nothing left to lose.
I stop resisting, sit there in the booth
with Grief, give it my napkin.
It rips the thing to shreds. Silent, I offer Grief
another, dab its wet disorder, try to feed it
flapjacks. I let Grief pour in as if I were a water glass
that welcomes condensation.
We stay until my legs stop shaking.
We stay until my breath rolls over, settles
back inside my chest, a silent sigh, a drowsy child.
Together, we walk past all
the other tables, past that toddler
now asleep, cheek flushed against
his grandfather’s flannel shirt.
There is no hurry.
We have nothing but time.
Alison Hurwitz lives in North Carolina, where she parents, officiates weddings, dances in her kitchen, and takes long walks in the woods with her family and rescue dog. Her work has recently been seen in Tiferet Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Anti-Heroin Chic, A Book of Matches Literary Magazine, The Shore, The Amethyst Review, Rust and Moth, River Heron Review, The Jewish Writing Project, Speckled Trout Review, and Gyroscope Review. Her work is upcoming in Minyan Magazine, Carmina Magazine, and SWWIM Every Day, among others. Alison hosts the monthly online reading, Well-Versed Words. alisonhurwitz.com.