THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF” by LINDA PASTAN

Short Analyses Guidelines
Choose one of the primary sources for the course. (A book, a poem, a story, etc). Find a secondary source which
explains or critiques the text or some particular aspect of it (theme, style/structure, characterization,
historical connections, etc). You may also use any of our theoretical sources from our class readings as a
framework for discussing the text of your choice. (Focault, Szasz etc.) Write your own analysis of the text using
the secondary source as evidence for your claims; OR respond to the secondary source (agree, disagree).
The Five Stages of Grief
By Linda Pastan
The night I lost you
someone pointed me towards
the Five Stages of Grief
Go that way, they said,
it’s easy, like learning to climb
stairs after the amputation.
And so I climbed.
Denial was first.
I sat down at breakfast
carefully setting the table
for two. I passed you the toast—
you sat there. I passed
you the paper—you hid
behind it.
Anger seemed so familiar.
I burned the toast, snatched
the paper and read the headlines myself.
But they mentioned your departure,
and so I moved on to
Bargaining. What could I exchange
for you? The silence
after storms?My typing fingers?
Before I could decide, Depression
came puffing up, a poor relation,
its suitcase tied together
with string. In the suitcase
were bandages for the eyes
and bottles of sleep. I slid
all the way down the stairs
feeling nothing.
And all the time Hope
flashed on and off
in defective neon.
Hope was a signpost pointing
straight in the air.
Hope was my uncle’s middle name,
he died of it.
After a year I am still climbing, though my feet slip
on your stone face.
The treeline
has long since disappeared;
green is a color
I have forgotten.
But now I see what I am climbing
towards: Acceptance
written in capital letters,
a special headline:
Acceptance
its name is in lights.
I struggle on,
waving and shouting.
Below, my whole life spreads its surf,
all the landscapes I’ve ever known
or dreamed of. Below
a fish jumps: the pulse
in your neck.
Acceptance. I finally
reach it.
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircse.
I have lost you.
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