Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ways of Losing (Poem)

Ways of Losing

Your pocket full of push pins and a map of symbols
with no key, you go every direction and nowhere at all.

No GPS can take you from point A to point B, the compass
arrow stuck in between. Even before you begin to advance you fall

back. It could be something somebody says to remind you
the wound-tight watch you wear always fails to make time go

faster, and there are never enough hours to visit even half
the many landmarks of pain: Like that spot where your man left

you after twenty years. The bedroom your child, still in pajamas,
was taken from. The couch on which your six-foot son slept late

one afternoon and the drawer in your own house that held the gun
that killed him. The car broken into at the local mall, the joy

ride not ending well, or the sky bridge from which your best friend
jumped, thinking there was no better way to go. The water tower

some poet  made his last staging ground, his every word
echoing inside the core of the solid steel drum. An Athletica store

re-entered to help a co-worker retrieve her purse, the argument
she'd had there past closing the one thing she'd never get over.

The evidence she left she faked. The Boy Scout summer camp
along the Potomac, its intruder one of their own. The Best Buy

where the baby was snatched and thrown against the outer door.
The Safeway at which you held out a hand and got shot in the head.

The woods in Rock Creek — didn't they warn you? — where you ran
because to run is to be free and you ran not knowing he was

following. Two towers in the clouds, once braced in brilliant blue,
now buckling, the smoke rising. The pool a block down the street

a two-year-old made a run for. The sink with the last strands
of untouched grey hair, and the room at the end of the hall they took

me to the day I heard my father had died and my grandmother
and my brother, none too old, and my friends, every one too young.

These are some ways of losing, and what we lose we pray for,
sit shiva, clothe ourselves in a fashionable black and pronounce

for our period of mourning. Some of us want process, declaring first
denial, then anger, moving from bargaining through depression,

finally giving in to acceptance. Don't you believe it's so easy as that.
When you lose what you love, you still love what you've lost.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

My audio recording for "Ways of Losing":

 Audio Recording of Ways of Losing, A Poem by mdoallas

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This poem is inspired by the writer Patti Digh's question at her new site The Geography of Loss: "For what or for whom do you grieve?" Digh is writing a book to be titled The Geography of Loss, which, she explains, is "about navigating our way into loss and grief, exploring the geography of the lands we find there, sometimes setting up camp for a while, and then emerging into new lands. It is about creating our own atlas of experience."

Digh invites readers to leave responses to her question at her new site. While reading the responses, I thought of all the many ways loss comes to us and into our lives, how many of those ways are often startlingly violent, and not a few self-inflicted. (What I recount in my poem are all real-life examples of loss; some are my own, others the experiences of persons I know, still others cases reported in the news.) No matter how loss comes, and no matter how often or where, we grieve it, always, as if for the very first time. How can we not? When we lose the ones we love, we still love the ones we've lost.


Dawn Potter said...

This is one of your best poems.

Louise Gallagher said...

I agree with Dawn. This poem brought tears to my eyes. It is very powerful.

Megan Willome said...

"and there are never enough hours to visit even half
the many landmarks of pain:"--my favorite line.

I had such great plans on the first anniversary of my mother's death, and I didn't get to implement any of them because I had shingles.

Kathleen said...

Whew! And wow! Huge compassion here, alongside the pain.

Peter Wilkin said...

This is such a poignant poem that paints the many ways we might encounter death & how it always impacts upon us as if it is our first experience of death, irrespective of the losses we have suffered before. As I plunged into your final lines the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem 'Time does not bring relief, you all have lied' drifted into my head. A stunning poem, Maureen ~ thank you so much for sharing it.

John said...

Your poem stirs me...thank you...and yes, 'closure' may be one of our most profane words...

S. Etole said...

It's hard to see through tears ... through loss.

This was powerful.

Poetic Soul said...

You sure know how to bring out emotion

Louise said...

Such a moving poem...'two towers in the clouds' ~ powerful indeed.

Anonymous said...

i think that loss can provide us with a better insight to love.

thank you for taking me through the words with your voice. it helps me so very much to take them in.

Sandra Heska King said...

Such emotional and powerful words. You've outdone yourself here, Maureen--and I am undone.