These two prose poems from Grey Vild’s manuscript Dear Gone slip in and out of war, grief, entrapment—the sentences slipping from their syntax: the objects of verbs and prepositions sometimes go missing, so the reader doesn’t know what or who is on the other side of the action. In a description of his MS, Vild says, “These poems are from a collection written to a loved one who died at the beginning of 2016. Trans suicide is an epidemic, but I found writing explicitly about this matter convolutes the real story at hand. While a narrative slowly emerges over the course of the book, I hope the poems here sketch just enough story to allow the reader to sink into this sometimes slippery work.” For me, the key phrase in Vild’s beautiful description is “slippery work.” The “you” in these poems is the loved one who has died, and yet anyone who has experienced profound grief knows the beloved is never gone. She invades your body. She shows up at the most inopportune times, and you find yourself puking in the bathroom at work or crying during a meeting, air suddenly vanished from the room. “There you are, within my. Still, breathing,” the speaker declares, and the fragmented syntax speaks volumes about how grief ghosts us: the gone one is “within my”—and the sentence breaks off, no noun clarifying the “my,” because to specify the departed’s location is impossible—she’s in the body, in the road, in the room, in the mind. She is “[s]till breathing” because the dead are not dead—they live inside us—and because she is “[s]till, breathing,” as if she’s calmly sitting beside the speaker. These poems capture how grief confuses self with other, “I” blending into “you,” both locked in the same cage with keys so flimsy—“made of dandelion and sweet grass”—their escape seems impossible.
Read “How long did we live this way like nomads at the far edges of war” by Grey Vild >>
Read “So the day would not come when we had to carry the war everywhere we went like a second” by Grey Vild >>