Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Bishop’


Lose something every day.

            —Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”



Lose something every day, the poet said—

and how I laughed the first time that I read

her words. My keys? My gloves? My place in line?

My favorite socks? A name? My glass of wine?

I’ve got that down, I thought, and shook my head.


But then I thought of passing time, the threads

of dates unraveling—and how I try to wind

them back, reclaim those squandered hours as mine.

Lose something every day?


And then I thought of certainty, how wed

I am to thoughts, convictions, faith. Instead

of losing them, I cling. Then they confine.

Some things are better lost—my rigid mind,

my prejudice, old chains of shame, my dread—

lose something every day.

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Lose something every day. —Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

Strangely, I did not misplace my keys
today, nor did I lose my wallet, though
I often do. But I did lose each passing
hour, a whole day sloped its raffish way
into the doors of now. And is it loss
when I recall the crooked aspen trunks,
how shyly they entwined beside the road?
And is it loss, the berry’s red still clinging
like my red, red thoughts? The darkling sky
is darkling as it will. But dear Ms. Bishop,
I can feel how I am losing who
I thought I was—the glistered dross of self.
I cannot lose it fast enough, but that’s
not how it works. Slow surrender, slow
the letting go. See, my name still sticks.
And I still think it’s me that’s walking up
the river road beside the leafless willows.
Too much left of me, so as you say
I’ll practice losing something every day.

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