I stare at the grass, overlaying new green with an imaginary grid. I need to find it. I don't want to find it. I pace, measuring every step.
Then I recoil. It lies in the lee of the hosta. I can't look I can't look I can't look.
It is a dishonour not to.
They cracked through and became mettle, magic. I'd never seen anything so fragile. Quivering and not even yet babies, more fetal than viable. Eyes sealed shut, innards coiling and pumping and breathing, wrapped in translucent pink.
They lived for four days, the beginnings of down and feathers taking root. After, mama bird dropped their bodies out of the nest, meticulous. We buried them. That was disturbing. I cried in the porch. Why did I need them to live? It's all so expected I almost can't bear to write about it for how contrived and trite it must seem. That I'm compelled to say this is not a device leads me to believe you'll think it is anyway.
I can't find the shape of what it meant. Since then I've been transplanting grief.
Everything wants to live. I yank a thing out by its roots and startle a frog, who prefers weedy curtains. He hops awkwardly into the exposure of a freshly tilled bed and then back towards shelter. Sorry, little froggie. I put out my gloved hand and the frog scrambles over it, a soft but sure weight.
Everything wants to live. Death wants to live.
I wish I could follow Liam's lead, or express that lead in some colourful way that would indicate something, anything, one way or the other. Faith? Maybe. An imprint, a pulse. I used to have knowing. The kind of knowing that made me smile at the funeral of a great-aunt, sitting on a pew inside the facade propped up to ritualize the answering of unanswerable questions. I felt like I had a terrific secret.
Nothing of it was device. It wasn't a function of me trying to convince myself by convincing you. Everything I looked at pulsed with it, living things and inanimate things and invisible things. I'll never be able to explain it, how profoundly vivid it was.
Three birds died and I crumpled because they were fetuses. Almost nobody knows what a fetus looks like outside the womb. I do. I hate that I do. Three birds died and joined that place that swallows up all sound and walking methodically across the lawn, looking for a dropped body, Liam died three times all over again.
These days, I prefer weedy curtains.
Three years out, this gets more difficult and more elusive. I worry. It's this frantic need to write, still, but now, it's loaded with self-consciousness. What do I want of you, to keep going there? What do I expect you to be able to say? What do I want of it? I don't know anymore. I've been hiding. Maybe I'm ashamed of hiding. I feel like I can't tolerate the gaping hole anymore. I'm patching it up in this desperate, ineffectual way. I'm staring at my own shoes, pretending to be normal.
I've felt this way for a long time now and yet it still feels new. Have I written this near-exact same thing already? Maybe. I've apologized for it before, made promises of posts about lipgloss and pot. Do you even believe it?