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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

 

 

I fell in love, today, with the black

and blue marker stains on the table

made by the two-year-old boy—

he colored in the circles he’d drawn

with so much enthusiasm that the ink

seeped through the paper

and into the lemon cream paint on the table

where no amount of scrubbing could remove it.

 

It wasn’t so much the stain though, no,

and it wasn’t the color. What I fell in love with

was the way his mother didn’t see

that the table was ruined. She saw

that he did such a fine, precise job,

that he took so much pleasure in the coloring.

And when I apologized for bringing markers

that didn’t easily wash, she looked at me

with so much surrender and said,

“On a day like today,

who could worry about a table?”

 

It was yesterday they found the dog

waiting beside the car.

It was this morning the skier’s body was found

in a massive snow slide.

It was all day, through the stupor of loss,

I fell in love with the shape of empty branches,

the scent of black tea, the sound

of my son’s voice, fell in love

with the grace in the way my friend shrugged

when she saw the table, the way she hugged

her son. She offered me chocolate from London.

We ate the squares slowly. All day the gray edge

of grief made every little thing

more precious, more sweet.

 

 

 

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One Great Loss

—for Jack

 

 

such terrible silence

when the dog isn’t whining at the door—

the space on the dog bed empty

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Losing It

 

 

It was a tiny percentage, I knew, but still

there was some French royalty somewhere

in my blood. I would spend hours imagining

myself in my proper place: in a long pink dress

 

and thin gold crown in a castle on a green hillside,

doing needlepoint, no doubt, and nibbling bon bons,

and so when I again asked my mother to tell me about

that part of our heritage, she told me,

 

It’s so little blood, and you’ve had so many

skinned knees, I’m pretty sure you’ve

bled it all out by now. And I was instantly

less grandiose. That was, perhaps, the first identity

 

that I was aware of losing. But soon after that,

I was no longer blonde. And soon after that,

I no longer lived in Wisconsin. And soon after that,

I was no longer a Scout. Everything I thought

 

I knew about myself didn’t last. Ah,

the litany of losses. Those notions of who we are,

how they shed, they spill, they slip off.

As they’re lost, we usually rush to replace them.

 

I became worker. Lover. Parent. Friend.

We wear them so close, these identities ,

that we no longer see them as separate. We think

they’re who we are. But what if we skinned

 

not just our knees, but our thoughts,

and let those roles escape? Who would

be left to walk through the field this evening

to see the double rainbow stretched across the east?

 

 

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There was a time when I’d pull his hair out

if he sat too close to me on the couch.

Now, I curl into his right side,

lean my head on his shoulder,

feel the trembling of his chest

as he weeps. How good it feels

to be close to him as we grieve.

How familiar, the shape of his head,

the heft of his hand as he reaches for mine.

How deeply right, this leaning

into sorrow together.

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Why I Play Uno

 

 

 

It’s so easy, really,

when you have no blue

nor a seven, and so

you pick and you pick

and you pick, and your chances

of winning lessen with each

yellow four, each red six

But there’s so little at stake,

and so you laugh

as your hand fills to spilling.

No one is dying

and no one is lost

so you let luck

punch you in the gut

again and again.

You have favors

to call in later.

For now,

all you have to do

is find a little blue.

What’s another

yellow reverse?

What’s another

green two?

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Longing is the hardest thing to give up.

            —Jim Tipton, “What is This Place I Have Come To?”

 

 

Some days can’t end soon enough,

when the heart, so full of love,

breaks and breaks again—

for beauty, for loss.

And the eyes can’t cry

another damn tear

but they do anyway,

I would rather not

cry anymore, but God,

thank you for letting me

be one of the ones

who can’t help but weep,

whose house is built

too close to the water.

What a gift to feel this horrible ache

like a lantern, golden

and soft, guiding us

deeper and deeper

into our humanness,

leading us closer

to each other, even

though we have never felt

farther away,

and though the stars

are out and at last,

thank god, it is night,

we have never

been more awake.

 

 

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One the Day After

 

 

 

on my lap

the emptiness refuses to purr—

it is all that I hear

 

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Shelf Life

 

 

 

Like milk kept in the fridge too long—

the carton beginning to bloat,

what was healthy, nourishing, wholesome,

 

now yellowed and curdled and sour.

It wasn’t on purpose, this spoiling,

but forgetting is its own kind

 

of aggression, and what

to do with it now,

this promise that can’t be kept.

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The Mother Remembers

The Mother Remembers

One thing you must never do is call a girl standing in or near the water by name, for that is like delivering a written invitation to the water king to steal your loved one.
—from “The Maiden Rescued by the Moon,” a Siberian myth, in The World’s Greatest Nature Myths by Gary Ferguson

I didn’t mean to call her name so loud.
Of course I was angry. The girl
was always so slow about her chores
and there was always so much to do.
Our wooden pail was emptied of water again
and the sun had nearly disappeared
beneath the Arctic Ocean waves.
Oh I wanted to smack her with that ladle,
I did, but I handed it to her instead.
“Now go, daughter, go get the water,” I said,
“and mind you come back soon.”
She always was a dreamy thing,
staring off into the surf
as if there were another place
that she would rather be.
On that last night we were together,
I had just finished stitching her
a new wool dress, blue as the deepest swells.
I wanted to give it to her by the fire.
Why did she stay so long by the shore
before coming back with the bucket full?
It was in anger, yes, when I called her name
to bring her out of her reverie,
but there was more. The water king took no time
to snag her from the shore with his long,
cold arms. “The ladle, daughter, the ladle!”
I cried, and she reached
it as high as she could and caught it
on a bush on the moon.
How strangely beautiful she looked, dangling there
as the moon made its trek toward the heavens.
On clear nights I can see her in the sky,
the ladle still in her hand.
How alone I am with this blue dress.
I stare at it now so long sometimes
it might be hours before I move
to fill the bucket with water.

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Autumnal

after William Stafford

When the leaves are about to yellow and fall

ask me then how I tried to hold on to what was green,

how I thought perhaps I was different,

how everything I thought I knew about gold

turned brittle and brown. Ask me what it was like

to fall then. Sometimes the world becomes invisible

and we know ourselves as the world. Sometimes

the only words that can find our lips are thank you,

though the gifts look nothing like anything

we ever thought we wanted.

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