Sometimes the specific nature of counting can help us, for a bit of time, to steer our thoughts for away from sadness. Here is a poem in which numbers give a grieving partner a framework through which to speak. (This selection is from The Widows' Handbook (Kent State University Press, 2014), an anthology gathered and edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn.)
Camp Numbers by Barbara Bald
I’ve been in these woods seven days,
fed our fish twelve shrimp pellets,
filled two hummingbird feeders with red juice,
given our cat ten doses of pink medicine.
I’ve live-trapped twenty-eight field mice
with the Tin Cat trap you bought,
rescued our Brittany’s toy four times from the river,
seen one person, the gas man fixing the fridge, in two days.
I’ve written thirteen poems,
five about your untimely death,
cleaned six cabinets to rid rodent remnants,
replaced one roll of toilet paper in the outhouse.
I am still waiting for one of you.
Learn more about poet and educator and nature-lover Barbara Bald here at her website.