Missa Brevis
Phebe Davidson

What can you give to grief but what there is?
      Stale air. Closed blinds. Take them.
Lay them at her feet. Grief knows who she is
      And why she’s here. Recite whatever
Words come to your mouth.  Happy Birthday.
      Many Returns. Grief has heard it all.
It’s nothing new. She’ll look, not seeing you
      For some time.  Not what you wanted,
But there she is. The pallid light
      Will start to quiver like jello. You will suck
The least bit of that stale air and say
        There’s this bar around the corner–
She will sigh, bored as she always is
       With the endlessness of mourning, it’s dreary,
Decorous dollop of dismay. Still, 
       She can’t dispense with it. Not even for
The best Bloody Mary in Duluth. And now you
       Will sense a kind of opportunity:
The bottle of Glenlivet in the den, her languid
       Acquiescence as you pour—
Admit it. You think you can live with grief. 
       You just might have to forevermore.

Return to Fall 2010 Table of Contents