American Life in Poetry

Grief can endure a long, long time. A deep loss is very reluctant to let us set it aside, to push it into a corner of memory. Here the Arkansas poet, Andrea Hollander Budy, gives us a look at one family’s adjustment to a death.


For Weeks After the Funeral

The house felt like the opera,

the audience in their seats, hushed, ready, but the cast not yet arrived.

And if I said anything

to try to appease the anxious air, my words would hang alone like the single chandelier

waiting to dim the auditorium, but still too huge, too prominent, too bright, its light announcing only itself, bringing more

emptiness into the emptiness.


Copyright 2006 by Andrea Hollander Budy. First published in "Five Points" and included in her book, Woman in the Painting. Reprinted by permission of the author and Autumn House Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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