I Don't Understand

I don’t understand how a life begins,
opens its eyes and blinks for the very first time.
How, in an instant, it tastes all the world at once
and afterward yearns to bite once more into that uncertainty.
I don’t understand how a face can grimace in defeat,
how it smiles beneath the sun’s shining rays
and then mourns as the rain tears from that sunshine its glee.
How, through such placid remorse, does it know that beauty will once more rise?
I don’t understand how those smiles can curl from within themselves
as memory fades and that warm smile turns cold and blank.
How eyes of yearning slowly turn to fog and glass
and that once avid sparkle, the desire to know
so suddenly becomes a deepening abyss of everything soon forgotten,
of the memories you long to uncover but never can.
When no one dares to search those eyes just one last time
because remembrance erases the goodbyes they fought so hard to seal.
I don’t understand how a life once spanning infinity
can stop eternally with a sudden shudder
and hang still in the midst of moving time.
How dreams and ambitions can be snapped shut by the darkness
and suffocated by your own dying breath.
I don’t understand how they breathe such stale air
without feeling the heart that stopped beating
or hearing the whispers in the night and knowing you’re still here.
To them your memory slips from the noose of time
but that cold heart beats yet within mine
as mine should have been instead.
I don’t understand how a world can at once cease to exist
or how the bitterness of tomorrow drags us onward.
I don’t understand how hatred can fall without thought
and become a longing for that once loathed,
a guilt that can stop this undeserving breath
and hold it fast in the undying grip of remorse.
I don’t understand how they are blind to that chasm
between life and death; remembering and being.
Or how a baby brother can suddenly be nobody,
be nothing as far as they can see.
I don’t understand why, through the mist of their forgetting,
he is never a memory to me.

I Don't Understand


Joined December 2007

  • Artist

Artist's Description

I wrote this poem one summer day at my brother’s grave. I remember just staring down at the tombstone in utter disbelief that a child of 11 could die so suddenly. I wrote these lines dripping with memories of how things used to be, how he was a common aspect of my life whose importance I never recognized until it was too late. Then I thought about how, somewhere between that time and the present, life had entirely shifted and he was no longer a part of it. My family and I adapted to the change, without even noticing…but evidently I didn’t adapt so well as the rest because his memory pains me like it does no other. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you will understand. If not, as I hope you never will, it simply cannot be completely understood.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.