Grief Soup

I started this dish

In an oversized pot

Already half full

With the broth of my tears

Immeasurable in content

Full of salt

I reached behind

To grab and pour in

The majestic milk-line

Of ancestral spices

Who called forth

Cups of joy, quarts of pain

A gallon of knowledge

Unlimited wisdom

From deep inner knowing

Rising to the surface

Of my steaming sadness

Others threw in chunks of trauma

Some raw, some processed

Some frozen with fear

Thawing out in these juices

Marinating in prayers

Pressure cooking the sadness

Of mine and others

Melting hearts

Braising with hope

Stir up comfort and peace

And new healing of souls

Though my pot almost full

I couldn’t help but pour in

Tears, tears, tears

And more tears

From wishing Mama

Could hold me again

Let me cry into her bosom

And tell me,

“Baby, this world is hard

But it’s go’n be alright.”

From knowing that

I’d never get to ride

In Daddy’s car with him again

To go to the market, buy fresh fish

Then watch the clerk filet it

Season it and fry it up in a pan

From knowing

I could no longer sit

With Grandmama in the summers

And our too-long-in-between visits

From the West Coast to the East

To make her sweet tea

And scratch her scalp with a comb

From knowing that my children

And my loved ones

And all of my fellow humans

Would too be cooking

Their own pots of grief

That I couldn’t take away nor dispose

I stepped back from the pot

Because the drops from my eyes

Whether from pain or joy

Still tasted the same

Although one was a preservative

My soup was now getting too hot

And too salty

So I dropped in some ice cubes

And cups of sugar

From all the joys

I had experienced

In the midst of life’s pains

With my family, childhood friends

The church and in community

While my grief percolated

I noticed how

Every single time

I thought it was done

Every single time

The contents simmered down

Society threw in raw slabs of pain

Soaked in patriarchy, hate

And white supremacy

That was then overly saturated

By the plethora of media

Those random

Yet regularly thrown in bits

Caused splashes that burned

Injuring my spirit

While stewing my grief

I tried turning the heat down

Already aware

That the light from the fire

Wouldn’t go out

For the huge pot of grief

Is never quite done

To even out the flavors

I reached up high

Standing on my toes


Grabbing a footstool


Climbing up

Standing on the highest counter

Of the room with vaulted ceilings

To reach the highest shelf

With my hands

Lifted in praise

I grabbed loaves of love

Packaged with reusable empathy

I compassionately placed

Every crumb into the pot

So now

Let us get our bowls and our spoons

Our injera and cornbread

Sit down at the table

Say our grace, bow our heads

As we take in our grief soup


Copyright © Angela Braxton-Johnson

March 2019 Poetically Inspiring Change, LLC