The Taste of Grief

by RACHEL MALLALIEU

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.
He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. Daniel 4:33

When I saw my youngest son lying still and blue,
I tasted Grief, its flavor like earth
ancient and familiar
so I tore into it, gnawing like
Nebuchadnezzar, until my teeth
began to break

and I realized I was chewing stone

Then somehow, my son
took a breath and
opened his eyes
sensing my salvation,
I rolled the stone

under my tongue, in order to spare my teeth

While the days stayed light and long, it was easy
to forget that taste
for I filled my mouth with
sun warmed blackberries

and harvested tomatoes

But now, as the days contract,
the sky hovers bruised and cold,
and the garden lies fallow,

I taste it yet

When it is dark, and I awaken from the dream
with hands cupped beneath my chin
to catch my falling teeth

I taste it yet

For having tasted Grief, if only a moment
I cannot spit it out
I can only hide the stone under my tongue
and wonder when my teeth

will finally shatter


About the Author

Rachel is an English major who somehow became an emergency physician. She married her college sweetheart and has five children. When she’s not wrangling kids or patients, she tries her hand with words.

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