Original poem reprinted online here: "Grief" by Richard Brostoff
Originally read: April 20, 2013
More information about the Poet: Richard Brostoff
When I first read this poem I thought two things. 1) How risky it is to title a poem "Grief." There's a higher percentage of sentimental verse and personal cringe-worthy experiences which can turn off a reader. 2) What does Sargasso Sea represent in all this? So after rereading this a couple of times, I go back to the speaker who weaves together the allegory of the vortex to grief.
In the first stanza, the mention of the Sargasso Sea is puzzling still. I think I did look it up and the Sargasso Sea has a history of having vortexes -- but I was looking for more of an allusion. I'm pretty sure the allusion is quite obvious if I took some time, but it wasn't the focus of the poem for me, rather the language used, " disappears into itself" where the ambiguous pronoun works for the sea and the idea of grief.
The second stanza has that dual reference with this line, "Vortex how you repeat / a single gesture," where the direct object, the vortex, is mentioned, but it can't be helped to see grief as a "repeat of a single gesture."
The third stanza is where I think I should know the allusion to Sargasso Sea. The "cup full of questions, / perhaps some curl of wisdom, / a bit of flung salt" seem to be the outcome or feeling during grief, but not so much the vortex. The third stanza doesn't fit in with me that way. I think this would be a strong last stanza, but the last stanza is pretty important to the poem.
Yes, it is the epiphanic last stanza which states, "You hold an absence / at your center, / as if it were a life" where the speaker describes the grief/vortex through the simile of life. Past me wrote, "Emotion or person going further into the internal to take memory of life, but not actually changing or developing from grief."