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Myth by Natasha Trethewey

MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM

1.
You always write about the heavy things, R. told me tonight. I feel it land like a rebuke. Try to be happier, he says, before ending the call.

2.
Heavy things. Sad things. Listlessness. Lassitudes. Malaise. I suppose so. Look: I don’t go to bed planning to be lonely tomorrow. But you know how it is, how life unfolds and reveals your aches even when you’re unprepared for it. I think especially then.

3.
I need to finish writing about grief, I wrote M. one evening, so I can finally let it go. She understands. It has been twelve years since he died, and it has been long enough. It has been nine years since I got help and it has been long enough. But what is long enough, do you think? What is loss. What is the anguish of living. What are the scars we carry. In some universe, he is always dying. In some universe, I don’t succeed in making it out of the deep dark. In some universe, I am always drowning. In some universe, love is enough.

4.
Yes, I know I have to find a way to write about other things in my life. Maybe some of my grief can live in a book where it will always be tended to. Then again: maybe we need to tell our myths as a testimony to how things began. In this universe, it seems I am always beginning.

5.
I do try. Look: just awhile ago I bit into a perfectly toasted bagel topped with a kind of cheese that has almonds and fruit in it, and I thought, well, we’re alright, aren’t we, T.? I turned around to tell my grandfather about it. And then I remember.

Myth
Natasha Trethewey

I was asleep while you were dying.
It’s as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow
I make between my slumber and my waking,

the Erebus I keep you in, still trying
not to let go. You’ll be dead again tomorrow,
but in dreams you live. So I try taking

you back into morning. Sleep-heavy, turning,
my eyes open, I find you do not follow.
Again and again, this constant forsaking.

*

Again and again, this constant forsaking:
my eyes open, I find you do not follow.
You back into morning, sleep-heavy, turning.

But in dreams you live. So I try taking,
not to let go. You’ll be dead again tomorrow.
The Erebus I keep you in—still, trying—

I make between my slumber and my waking.
It’s as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow.
I was asleep while you were dying.

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This poem appeared in Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey, published by Mariner Books, 2007. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Natasha Trethewey • Find books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: grieflongingdeath • Or browse the index

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Comments (1)

  • Susan Hansen

    She was my college poetry professor.

    reply

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