Grief is a Thing with Fur

Grief is a thing with fur.

It lives in the space she once occupied.
A shadow glimpsed through salt raw eyes.

It does not come alone.
Instead it herds all past griefs before it.
Coralling them into the gaps between my ribs,
where they jostle for space and crush the air from my lungs

Grief is a thing with fur.

Its pelt is suffocatingly soft 
as it pins me to the floor.

But it is not warm.
It cuts off touch and sound and sight.
Surrounding me in a breath stifling cloud
which thrums with a depth of solitude that binds me still.

Grief is a thing with fur.

It curls up on my pillow at night,
drinking those tears the feathers cannot absorb.

It pads through my dreams;
A silent black reminder, even in sleep,
that the world is no longer a many splendored thing
but a place where wishing and longing change nothing at all.

Grief is a thing with fur.

It disappears for days at a time,
leaving me bereft in a different way.

Sometimes it is gone for so long
I become certain it has found new human to live with.
Then I find it lurking in the supermarket, or the library
and try though I might, I cannot prevent it following me home.


This poem has been formed, in various drafts, over the past two years. It owes much to Max Porter’s “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” and Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”.

I’m still not 100% happy with it but sometimes you just need to set the words free and see what happens to them. National Poetry Day felt like an auspicious time to release it into the wilds.


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