Lullabies from the Yawning Grave
by Kerri Caldwell
When the night is over, you’ll walk into the sun. You’ll be lost in time and space, join the growing list of ancient names. I wake with pleasure in my heart, but lonesome dreams are waiting for me because when the sun leaves, so will you. And it’ll be the last day, the last time I ever belong to you. Because when the night is over, I won’t be a daughter anymore.
You tell me, “I will be back one day. Meet me in the woods, way out there, follow the moonbeam through the frozen pines and wait by the river.”
But all I ever see is a ghost on the shore in my lonesome dreams. Over and over, like a cursed lullaby, I ask ‘When will I see you again?’ until the night turns into the sun. This is where I lose you, and your love like ghosts, disappears into the sun. And it doesn’t matter how long I’ve walked without you, I still look for you in the places we went wild, places I should know better than to keep visiting. You’ve disappeared in the wind while I get lost in time and space. I followed you to the ends of the earth, tried to drag you back from the edge, but never ever do I win. I go back to that day every night and it always ends the same. When the night is over, you’ll be gone from the world and I’ll never be a daughter again.
I hope the dead can hear us think of them, way out there in the yawning grave. Do you think they miss us, too? Constellations get named after heroes and tragedy and grief. Is this grief? Does this tragedy make us heroes? There are no stars in the sky to answer my questions, unless their absence is why the ache inside of me is my compass instead of all the emerald stars in existence.
And see, that’s the problem with your daughter. Grief has the power to make us do strange things. She listens for that lullaby from the yawning grave, hears it in the wind, and knows it’s time to run.
“Meet me in the woods, wait by the river.”
She’ll go to the ends of the earth just to meet the ghost on the shore, and even if she’s a fool for love, she knows a love like ghosts can’t be seen in the wind.
“Follow the moonbeam through the frozen pines.”
She takes the path full of resistance, it’s harder on her body but easier on her mind, even if she doesn’t realize this. She waits inside the line of one lone and solid moonbeam, the thoughts in her mind making the darkness look brighter. She’s not just motherless, she’s not just alone, she’s not just simply been left behind. She is barren of all things, all the things that connect you to the earth, that give you the sense that you belong here, or somewhere, or to someone. They have their trees, their trees have their leaves, and all she has is her tragedy. It’s burned on her soul, like the world thought she’d ever forget that her family tree’s lost all its leaves.
But mama, that’s the problem with your daughter. She’s found the secret of life, that you’ll never know a love deeper than your mother’s.
I’m barren, mama, and my tree has no leaves or family to shade me from the blister of this truth. She knows a love like ghosts, and she knows there’s an echo of you in her soul.
I’m alone, mama, but I’m not lonely.
I can hear you from the yawning grave, mama, and the lullaby in the wind, the one that brings me back from the edge of my lonesome dreams and the nights are no longer cursed. They poured gasoline on my soul and tragedy was the match that left the scars. Every time I heard you in the wind, your cursed lullaby ripped them open again. I wanted life less than death, so I let you, I let it, I let everything scar my scars until the old blood and the new blood were the same blood.
I get it now, mama. The scars on my soul were full of ugly words,
and all that leaves bitterness ready on your tongue. I wasn’t letting you open my scars so I could feel numb, you were emptying them of my questions and healing them with your answers, the ones inside the lullaby you send me from the yawning grave. The lullaby that held the secret of life. I’ll never know a love deeper than a mother’s love, not your love, mama, or my own. But there’s an echo of you in my soul, and it traded all the times I felt suffocated by your love into all the times I’ll need your love, and it settled into all my scars.
The problem with your daughter, mama, isn’t that she’s scarred. She’s just scared.