I grew up in a culture that celebrated death as much as it did life. Barely a stone’s throw from the riot of Bourbon Street was St. Peter’s Cemetery No. 1 – the first of the “cities of the dead” that New Orleans was equally famous for. Life and death were Mardi Gras on Shrove Tuesday blending seamlessly into Ash Wednesday. My childhood was a thin veneer of American ingenuity underlain by deep notions of fate and fatalism.
And grief. Grief was as integral to life as was joy. My mother came from a very large, very extended family. Someone was always being born, someone was always being married, and someone was always being “waked.” I learned early that Catholic wakes always had food and alcohol; Protestant wakes might have water and cookies or mints but the alcohol, like the grief, was outside, where the men gathered, passed around in bottles wrapped in brown paper bags.
Grief is part of life, but it’s a hard part, as poet John Sibley Williams describes in his new poetry collection Disinheritance.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.