I Don’t Know How to Tell You by Hillary Wentworth

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To my son

How hundreds of blackbirds visited the trees surrounding the house again and again, the sound of their chittering so loud it drowned out all else. In the tips of the hardwood trees, on the power lines, the slope of the neighbor’s backyard, the front lawn. How one left, and they all followed, until the blue of the sky was blotted with black. In flight, when the sun shone on their bodies, they turned white.

How, after a friend cut my hair, I went outside to dump the remnants. By the long-gone clothesline, by the pricker bushes tamed with time and shears, I released the hair into the wind. Instead of floating gracefully toward the creek below, the dark-brown clumps—dense, weighty—fell to my feet. A sort of creature that, in its death throes, had come to rest in the bright-green moss. How I’d stood staring for what seemed like hours. How a year earlier, on a winter day so warm I didn’t need a coat, I’d strewn your uncle’s ashes over that same slope. They’d fallen differently, as you’d expect, delicate sands chalking the earth.

How grief is just there, and there, and there. 

Meet the Contributor

Hillary Wentworth earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, caesura, and The Fourth River, among other journals. She lives in southern Maine.

STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/petrOlly

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