Grief is a rough skinned gourd, with a course rind of ember green and a soft flesh fruit centre. And when this growth erupts inside your chest you are a heavy globe of roasted heart that swells and writhes and thumps against your ribs, until you don’t know whether to carve your innards out and simmer them into a nurturing soup, or to tear up your very self and discard the whole rotten lot. And when the leaves of grief’s vine sprawl through your veins your body becomes your enemy, its simple rhythms are a pointless mocking pursuit. You are a mortal curse tethered to the earth while the one you want to touch, to love, to rail against flies free in a place you cannot clutch or hold or fathom. And you are both blessed and crippled by the finality of life, and the fragility of our every breath is a raw and wounding unavoidable fact. And then you will get to work because you have no choice. With knives and spoon and fingers you’ll carve out your pumpkin soul and pick through the seeds of all that dwells within; the joy, the pain, the rage, blame, hate, love and regret. And the smell of grief’s juice will linger on your hands, and the taste will be bitter, and you will shed tears of confusion and righteous injustice until you are an exhausted mess. A shell of yourself a hollowed out palace of what was once and now will never be again. And then (and only then), you may take up your sharpest blade and slice once more into grief’s ugly fruit. You will cut out two sharp eyes and tear in a crooked smile, less than perfect shapes that can see and speak a certain type of truth. And right at the bottom of your sobs past the place where you gave up twice, underneath the racks and shudders that you thought might break you, right there, on the tenderest spot, you will light a tiny wick, and a flame will burn, of love or strength or whatever else you need. And then your hideous gourd of grief will glow and your too solid flesh with soothe with a soft peaceful light from within. Then grief becomes your lantern, a roughshod lamp to guide the way for new steps forward. It’s part of a season of growth, forgiveness, new life, and change.
Hannah Davies is a writer, theatre-maker and performance poet based in York. She is the winner of the Great Northern Slam March 2016, Bristol Poetry Festival Slam 2016, Say Owt Anti-Slam 2016, Axis Crewe Slam 2017, and a Word War Four 2017 Finalist. This piece was written for performance, but has been experimentally re-formatted as a prose-poem for publication on this blog! You can follow Hannah on Twitter at @DaviesHC