By Pauline Plummer


About Grief

About grief they were never wrong
the old soul singers with minor chords
and grace notes from the field songs,
Gospel, blues and hymns stored
in DNA, a hot line to village
dialects, long forgot, or rhythm
felt on a mother's back, the voltage
of pestle on mortar pounding yam.

Grief doesn't need words of depth
just clich├ęs pulled along with a guitar
or sax, so on the sticky dance floor
you relax into a stranger's warmth.
Our sweetest songs are those that tell
the saddest thought. As a white girl
in a convent I heard a truth explained
about men, women and their crop of pain.

Otis bewailed his woman on a bus
to Detroit or Aretha's voice spilt
from some deep wound like she was
sweating it. It was music distilled
as homemade brew - you drank
it down, coarse and unfiltered, a taste
of grace in bitterness and asked
if you could bear the weight
life was sure to load upon your back.





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