Grief Arrives in its Own Time

Sep 11, 2020

Today’s poem is “Grief Arrives in its Own Time”, which I wrote following the death of my brother Howard on September 11, 2001.  Today is the 19th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, which changed my family and our country.  His death, and the shock of his death, brought such deep grief to our family. The clear blue skies of early September are a marker for me every year. I came to realize that grief has its own way of guiding us through our mourning.  We can’t anticipate its arrival or departure.

Grief Arrives in its Own Time
by Stuart Kestenbaum

It doesn’t announce itself or knock
on the door of your heart. Suddenly

it’s right behind you
looking with great pity

at the back of your neck
and your shoulders on which

it spends days placing a burden
and lifting it.  Grief arrives

in its own sweet time, sweet
because it lets you know that

you are alive, time because
what you are holding becomes

the only day there is: the sun stops
moving, the sky grows utterly quiet

and impossibly blue. Behind the blue
are the stars we can’t see and beyond

the stars either dark or light,
both of which are endless.

from Prayers and Run-on Sentences (Deerbrook Editions 2007)
Poem Copyright © 2019 by Stuart Kestenbaum