Revisiting "Unraveling" by Jennifer Brinkley
I came across this gem in our fourth issue. A brilliant piece by the talented lawyer, professor, and writer Jennifer Brinkley, “Unraveling” is the paper cut that seems small but stings for hours after the cut is made. The imagery and movement are what strike most in this piece. We are not entirely sure of where it is headed, but there is a familiarity in it. We see ourselves: our disappointment, our guilt, and the hope that we made some impact in the lives of loved ones before time runs out. This piece breathes sorrow with every line and makes you want to pull the tissue box a little closer; you might need it.
We were strung like this fragile strand of pearls.
I guess it was always destined to break.
To fall to the floor, a hollow clatter,
An echo of days wasted, of words said and unsaid.
I drop to my knees to try to collect them
But they have already scattered
To the four corners of this space.
I do not have the energy to stand back up
So I will just sit amongst them.
My fingers search for a smooth sphere.
Just one, if I could find just one smooth pearl in this dimming light.
Instead my touch seems to find only jagged edges.
Unkind thoughts and harsh words spewed in anger.
Thoughtless actions, doors slammed, children crying.
How hard would it have been to be gentle?
To have bitten my tongue, to have turned my head?
Even the strongest rope unravels over time.
But we were never strong, were we?
At best we were like this thin thread I am holding.
Now it is left without its beauty.
I wanted you to wear this but you tucked it away.
“To save for special occasions,” you said.
I never once saw it around your neck.
Guess I didn’t make our life too special.
The kids drove me home after the service.
There wasn’t much to say, they had to get home to their own babies.
They made sure I had something to eat, tidied up the house.
You taught them well.
I’m not sure what I taught them all these years.
I tried for a while but then it just became too easy to stop trying.
To let you carry the weight. To watch you from the sidelines.
Now here I sit, too old to play in the game.
I am left without my beauty.
Like this lifeless string in my hands.