An Algorithm for Grieving
by Adrian Potter
If Wednesday, then x = mourning. y will equal the dim interior of regret, the distance separating curse from confession. Inside the church, if the surface tension of the moment withstands both sermon and eulogy, then y = support, but only via sympathetic handshakes and awkward hugs. If male, then cry without tears. If female, then read the crowd like a fortune teller’s tealeaf. If uneasy, then x will be roughly equal to the difference between indignant and inconsolable, but divided by the unanswered prayers that push against patience. Assume an appearance by a prodigal relative, a gesture. If pained, then multiply the soul-deep ache by a hymnal’s dead weight, or better, deduct the deliberate singing of the congregation straining to keep up with the choir. In cemeteries, y always equals silence. Sometimes x can equal pallbearer, but can also equal absentee. Yesterday, x = envelope. x + y occasionally equals inheritance, but only when stepmothers are not present. x will nearly always equal empty then, or meager.