Grief and Other Armageddons

by Celeste Noelani McLean

It is the baby’s still birthday, so
I dust his urn with my fingertips
The only care-taking I do now
He is dead

The other children get my
Unremarkable busy-day parenting,
Utility of soft white sandwich bread and
Tight-as-you-can embraces

Later I check for missiles, or
Another earthquake-hurricane-wildfire
Those in hard-as-heart fortresses say
We could survive

What I know about survival is the way
It is infested with suffering, dark handprints of
Graveyard seared upon a defiantly beating heart;
A tyrannical resilience

No escape from these partings
We know a hundred thousand ways to relive
The boiling-ocean innards of “I never want to
Say goodbye.”

My son is gone years ago, but
I see him almost every day
Vivid boy in his heavy star; translucent
Memory of love

But when he returns to the endless
Everywhere of his absence,
I cower beneath a falling sky called
Living when he cannot

What I know about life is the way
We are each a promise to the other; that
An ocean will boil beneath the many
Suns we leave behind


Celeste Noelani McLean grew up in Kāneʻohe, on Oʻahu, but now lives in Seattle, WA. Her writing can be found at .

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