Debby Bacharach

For My Friend, Grieving
by Deborah Bacharach

1. For me grief

has been a pudding pop. The first bite
made me think there might be something

but by the second, the third,

just empty

calories. After awhile, I didn’t even notice
I was no longer at the table.

You, my darling, you’ve got the Sachertorte of grief,
every bite an explosion to the senses,
every bite calling
for more.

You must sit at this table
with the limp balloons, the brief flashes of fire
and eat and eat alone.


2. I know nothing about grieving, but I read a romance novel

set in the cowboy west and the grieving widow
had to wear a year of black.
I can see the point of that.

But, I must admit, the widow in this book
wasn’t actually grieving her abusive husband
(who keeled over at the whorehouse
in flagrante delicto.) She was grieving
how bad her life had been and then a former student
(I know, I know, kinky) came to town
riding a bad reputation, and you can guess
where they wound up. I can loan you the book.


3. What would Donald Hall do?


After Jane Kenyon kicked it, he went for
meaningless sex.
How do I know? He told us so
at the public reading on Second. Perhaps,
even then, he was trawling for prospects.
Everyone wants to comfort.
You could take out an ad:

Needs to be fucked senseless.
Has own room.
Ignore screaming.


4. I’m thinking you should eat your baby.

He is what’s left of her.
Maybe ingesting a finger at a time
would calm that craving.
Of course, the problem–
after a month of parceling out thighs and rump,
of slowly chewing down cartilage,
he’d be gone. Kids on the plastic yellow slide,
kids at the Stop-n-Shop, kids almost asleep
in their strollers while their mothers hum
lullabies your lover did not two a.m. hum,
would not suffice.


5. I know you don’t drink, but

Grief might like a pint.
Self-cutting? Leeches?
I’m just brainstorming now.
I think I saw a barbershop,

up a couple streets

and to the left.


6. May I offer a swift kick to the head?

The DMS-IV has classified deep grief
six months after the instigating incident
as pathological.

(See Adjustment Disorders 309-309.9).

So, you’ve got to stop wallowing,
or they’ll drug you
and pull your kid.


7. Let’s play pick a cliché

Step right up! Step right up! Spin the wheel! Take your chances!


Everything happens for the best.

An apple a day.         Time heals all wounds.

One day at a time.                     Tomorrow is another day.

Just like riding a bicycle.                               A stitch in time saves nine.

You can’t always                                                                         get what you want.

Keep on keeping on.                                   Give it the old college try.

Let’s get the show                                             on the road.

Absence makes             the heart grow fonder.

Better to have loved and lost.


The carny has pegged you for a rube.

8. I remember your love’s bright blue frames

Do you remember the witch who offered
to pluck a day from your overburdened brain?
Sure no one wants to give up
the hike with fifteen switchbacks,
kissing at every corner. But what about
stuck in the airport when the kid
throws himself on the floor and howls
and your love turns her shoulder
but not before you see the scowl.
Chemo day. Chemo day after day.
The witch offered to wipe away a day,
to take every color, every sound,
to take the pain.

You refrained.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 2.

Debby BacharachDeborah Bacharach’s work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Arts & Letters, New Letters, Cimarron Review, and Literary Mama among many others. She is a college writing instructor and freelance writing consultant in Seattle. Find out more about her at

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