The Anticipation – by Susannah Sheffer

When it’s time for loss,
it might not be
bearable. I dare you
to praise this. Yes,
this: the fist around your heart
saying how? How will you
survive it? An extravagance of
blossoms, olives, more salt
than we need – someday, afterward,
all these pleasures will
complicate grief. You can’t count on
purity, but praise that too:
how messy things become.
By things I mean love. Go ahead
and say it. The tether, the binding
that makes loss so unthinkable. Praise
how we want to hoard
what we’re given, wrap ourselves
around it and defy anyone to
tell us to let go. But we’ll
have to. It’s how it works.
You don’t have to
praise that, but praise how
we protest. How we try
not to think about it.
How we sit at this table
sucking the meat from the bone,
knowing the thief will come.

Susannah ShefferSusannah Sheffer’s chapbook This Kind of Knowing was published by Cooper Dillon Books in 2013, and her full-length collection Break and Enter was published by Kelsay Books in 2021. Her poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, TheThreepenny Review, Poet Lore, Briar Cliff Review, and other journals. Her nonfiction book book Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys was published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2013. She lives in Western Massachusetts.