Anticipatory Grief

I missed the Japanese maple bloom.
I was washing my mother’s hair in the stream.
I was gathering leaf-litter for the hummingbird mum
who takes only a week to thread her nest. I was washing
my mother’s hair in the nectar. I was trimming the dead.
I was brushing fields of salt. I was sponging her smell.
I was waiting for the prayer to rinse clean, leave the sweet
silked in her strands. I was waiting by the glass for the wings
to cluster and think she was flourishing. I was waiting for the last
wintered leaf to curl itself into falling. I was waiting for the smallest
sting when it hit the earth, and for grief to stop cawing my sleep.




Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ.  She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera. She is an Editor at The Comstock Review and you can find her work at