Putting my right foot in.

Thanks very much to Thicket House for passing this one along.


I want my grief

to be brilliant, fast and gone.

Like Mozart. Or Stevie Ray.
Like fireworks. Boom! Flash!
Ooh, ahh. OK, done. Let’s go.

I want my grief to be brave.

Hurts more now, heals faster,
Grandma said, pouring salt
On a skinned knee.

I want to stand up to grief,

Stand it down, like the
Tiny man, big tank
In Tiananmen Square.

Because. Because if I am brave,

Bold, salty, open enough
The tank, the bleeding, the tears
Will stop sooner. I tell myself.

But grief laughs. Humbles me.

I lose keys, break cups, get lost.
Asked at CarMax Why are you
Selling this car?
I burst

Into an embarrassment of tears.

A friend says, One doesn’t have grief,
Grief has you.
We wrestle, to the mat. I’m pinned.

But sometimes I break free.

Break patterns instead of dishes.
Start to write myself a new story,
To fling myself toward yes,

Begin to say, Oh. Now this. . . . Observe

What life brings. Reframe. Say,
I’m not wrestling grief,
We’re dancing.

So, I put my right foot in . . .
And turn myself about.


–Peg Runnels

12 thoughts on “Putting my right foot in.

  1. I am really happy to have more people know this poem! You could have used my illustration had you wanted to…..A friend’s husband lost a grown up daughter about the time I posted this and his wife, whom I’ve been friends with since grade school, said that this was the only thing that comforted him at the time. He didn’t want or couldn’t listen to, all the platitudes of people he knew really meant well…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was at Stevie Ray Vaughn’s last concert before the helicopter crash. He was a great guitarist, one of the greatest. He had a great career and talent. It takes a lot of practice and and a life of dedication to move an audience the way he did the evening of his last concert. I’m grateful for that beautiful night outside in a natural bowl with my eyes closed and the complex fingering stirring us to silence.


  3. Oh Gretchen, dear – God bless and heal your heart.  I believe that you are so very brave. I am forwarding this to my friend, Rosie, who lost her husband, Fred.   Love, Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful poem–thanks for sharing it!

    I was happy to see WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR by Wendell Berry on your book list. This is one of my favorite books and one I return to often.

    I read a beautiful book by the poet Elizabeth Alexander about the very sudden death of her husband several years ago. I don’t know if this is the sort of thing you want to be reading now, but THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD might be something you look at one day.


    Liked by 1 person

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