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Do not make Grief your God

By Mahogany L. Browne

Make it a cup of coffee
The espresso percolator wheezing on
the biggest eye
of the stove

Consider the dress
line up every spark you own
and weep at its small finalities
Hold each piece of silk and cotton
like the gone love/hero/heart
Name the garment, please
give Grief a name
Then fold it
Place it kindly in a home suitable
for royal things

Text every contact
In your cellphone
I love you
I love you
I love

Try this same exercise with your email inbox
newsletter, spam and such correspondence
Each item will bounce back with your declaration
in the subject line:
I love you. I love you. I love you. you. you.

Glorious chant of remembrance
Praise the ability to feel this deep:

The goldfish. The grandparent. The ball player.
The children detained. The spoiled water. The
sewer spilt government. The son. The daughter.
The bullet. The gift of ghosting. The promise of
no more. The mother. The father. The empty
womb. The empty heart. The desertbranch throat
clenching tightly, a name no one will speak.

On the third day
pull yourself out of bed
wake with a start
Can you feel death’s bone milk?
Good. This means you are among
the living
Good. This means your heart is yours

Do not drink from the glass
left next to the bed overnight
Do not drink from the glass
of the unknown
Find fresh water
Find fresh water
Become fresh water
               Pour into yourself

On the fourth day
when you wake
leave Grief asleep if you can

If Grief is already sitting upright
on top of the duvet covers
next to your closet
on the nightstand
against the crowded windowsill
Call it by the name you’ve crowned it
Grief will watch you make the bed
and fluff the pillows with lavender oil
Invite Grief for a walk, remind it with a whisper
we all need fresh air

You and Grief
move soundless
beneath the sun

You climb the stairs
pass the puddles of dew
and undisturbed dog shit

You and Grief
walk side-by-side
hands not touching
but feather whispclose

The light tips its full cup




Listen as Mahogany L. Browne reads "Do not make Grief your God."

Added: Friday, February 7, 2020  /  Used with permission.
Mahogany L. Browne
Photo by Jennie Bergqvist.

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Browne was invited as a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC which was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Split This Rock began a virtual poetry reading series in May 2020 which included a reading by Mahogany L. Browne, Kimberly Blaeser, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Marilyn Chin on May 29, 2020.

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