How to Grieve

by Treehouse Editors

Deanne Gertner

Start with a quail’s egg, cream
colored, brown speckled, chilled
from the icebox. Cradle it in the dip
of your clavicle until its temperature
matches yours. With your index
finger and thumb, crush the shell.
Slick the yoke over your nail
and let it dry in the cold, winter
sun. Let the rough tongue of a cat
lick your hand bone-clean.

List the things you took
for granted in disappearing
ink on your bedsheets
in the middle of a late-spring
storm at 3 a.m., your belly
warmed by an eighth
of whiskey, the suicide
music doing its best
to blare from the puny
speakers of your phone.

At the end of your grief
pretend the words caterwauling
inside your head are red
and green macaws sojourning
for a week or four or seventeen.
Study not their flight, for-life
mating habits nor yellow eyes.
Wait instead for circadian
rhythms to realign. Pray
for molted feathers to re-plume.


A Colorado native, Deanne Gertner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Regis University. Her fiction has appeared in Quaint Magazine and Scintilla while her art criticism has appeared in Daily Serving and Presenting Denver. She serves on the board for Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, the largest literary center in the Rocky Mountain region.