Posts Tagged ‘absence’


It was the orange juice aisle that did it.
I stood there staring at cartons
I knew I wouldn’t buy because you
are gone. My son, I stumble on you
everywhere you are not. Which is everywhere.
The only way to learn how to meet
your absence is by meeting it.
In the car. At the table. In the yard.
On the phone. At the school.
And there in the orange juice aisle
where I stared at the cartons on the shelf
then walked on, the cart still empty.

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One Trick



seeing them on the branch

the bright yellow tanagers

gone until summer

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When the cat ran away,

I noticed how she did not move

between the legs of the chairs,

how she did not yowl by her bowl

nor sit in the window. Everything

I saw was where she was not.

All day, I held it close,

her absence. All day,

I thought how she was not here.

Was it true?


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Eating Dinner with



What gave numbers their power was the very act of naming them and writing them down.

            —Amir Aczel, “The Origin of the Number Zero,” Smithsonian Magazine, December, 2014



Imagine, says my friend, before 700

there was no zero, which means

before that there was no concept

of nothing. In my bowl,

there is only a bit of squash soup left.

I add some salt, take a small bite.

There is less. I remember reading

that numbers exist outside

the human mind. Not like

a John Deere tractor that’s invented.

Not like a sonata that’s composed.

I take another bite of soup.

it is warm and tastes of apple

and thyme. I try to imagine it,

not knowing of nothing.

What would I have said

was in my bowl now that

the soup is gone? What

would I have thought

was in the chair beside me

here where you are not?

How would it change this

all that is, not comprehending

this all that is not?

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For an hour and a half, my son and I

create emptiness. All those places

where there was snow

on the drive and the walk,

we shovel them until there’s a long,

sinewy swath of absence.

It is deeply satisfying,

this moving of matter

from one place to another,

creating a path, a way.

When we are done, we lean

on our shovels and revel

in what is missing. We high five

and smile and feel as if we’ve really

accomplished something together.

How oddly full I feel

after this effort of emptying.

How many paths in me

are waiting to be exposed?

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tall and clear

wholly illumined by sun

slowly I learn to see

the vase as lovely

even without the sunflowers

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When October Goes

And now we come to the part of autumn
which is more fell than falling.

It’s hard to not miss the gold,
just as it’s hard to not miss the lips

of your lover when he’s gone.
You tell yourself that absence

makes the heart grow. Your self
is not impressed. You tell yourself

that the absence
is beautiful. But absence today is

absence—an inability to be present,
and your thoughts are anywhere

but here—in fact, they have gone to one
specific anywhere where it’s still

gold and warm and the heart
is so full it can’t hear a word anyone says

in an attempt to warn it
about how things change.

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standing inside
the life-size kaleidoscope
infinite reflections
of me
without you

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that old crow,
perhaps he spoke first
with you


removing the clothes
from my thoughts—someone
left the gate open


out the window
I see only where the cottonwood
does not stand


dew on my song
have I really been singing
this long?

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Something is missing.
At least that is what

the palate says. Though
so much is here. Nudge

of onion. Wink of cumin.
The lentil’s warm shrug.

It is like, perhaps,
a person who, feeling

a certain emptiness
longs to fill it with

a voice. Though all
around him, voices,

not hers.
The soup is warm,

but not there the spark,
the sharp song, the crystalline chime.

It is easy to taste
mostly absence. We are

hard wired to want it,
to crave it, adore it.

We’ve evolved
alongside of our need.

No one wants to hear
they can’t have what

they want. We cannot
untaste what we’ve tasted.

They say we are mostly
made of emptiness.

Sometimes I understand.

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