{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Lisken Van Pelt Dus

is a poet, teacher, and martial artist, raised in England, the US, and Mexico, and now living in Massachusetts.

Her work can be found in several anthologies, in such journals as Conduit, The South Carolina Review, qarrtsiluni, and upstreet, and in her chapbook, Everywhere at Once (Pudding House Press, 2009).

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Grief in the Partitive

As if it were a cake from which
you’ve been served a slice: some grief.
Or liquid in a pitcher from which
you’ve been poured a glass: pulpy
and cloying. Uncountable: grief
smudged on your face, smeared
on your fingers. As if it were singular—
an only grief—but indistinct,
its outline blurred like a horizon
lost in cloud, or a favorite tree
swallowed in forest. As if incomplete
and ongoing: you are experiencing
grief today, grief tonight, grief
tomorrow. As if it were something
you loved: you desire this grief.
Tentative, as if it were something
you had asked to borrow. Derived
from the ablative: you understand
you come from grief. As if the result
can’t be known: you aimed at grief,
but without snow to blanket the woods
you can’t track it. As if it were
absent: yesterday, there was no grief
in your house. As if to create a future:
you discover you will be this grief.