I first wrote this a few years ago after reading Elizabeth Bishop’s work once again. Well, after revisiting Mary Oliver and gaining familiarity with Pablo Neruda this summer, I once again returned to Bishop’s work and then had to re-watch Reaching for the Moon. So I decided to dig this one out and tweak it and revise.
In this thing called losing, Bishop said we become masters And that losing isn’t a disaster. No, not a disaster. Losing socks and such stuff. I’ve lost earrings, bracelets, Expensive ones too, didn’t care Beyond maybe a minute or two, And never was it a disaster. And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia Did I have upon saying goodbye To three houses and two cities, And never did I feel it a disaster. And yes, it was no disaster To bury my mother, A father who really wasn’t, The man who really was, First one brother, then the other, Then lastly, a wife. With each, my body and soul Savaged by a catastrophic hurricane, yes. But no, no disaster. No disaster is it, I’ll admit, For a tiny bit of soul to erode As I buried each. But nothing, nothing did I ever master. Except, maybe this— I did not look for them- Looking to forget them Since they were gone, Emptied of this earth. No, I did not look to forget While driving home In darkness under a full moon Lighted with regret Of a new unfamiliar scent. Yet the swirling of this sad scent Is no, no real disaster. No real disaster is it— That I look to forget A lost return now. A return to life Captured, fleeting, lost-- Filled with a scent Of hope or a fool’s thought— Matters not but now lost. And in this thing Called losing, In which I am well-schooled, As are we all, I have tried to make an art, To make an art of all this loss. Yes, this may be no real disaster, But Bishop lied. There is no art in losing, No art at all, That I can find to master.