Friday, September 14, 2012

One Art, Indeed

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

Today, a cell phone - another unexpected expense; a bunch of pictures from Tunisia - my last day, last sunset, the women's protest, gone. Possibly also my camera's memory card - the vast majority of the pictures I took there, had not gotten around to backing up because I kept ability to take pictures with aforementioned camera until I spend yet more money on a replacement...

And once, long ago there was a medical professional who actually listened to me and said, agreed, that there really might be something with my brain, the constantly forgetting, losing things, losing track of thoughts mid-sentence, frequent lateness - how many missed buses, hours spent hanging about in bus stations waiting for the next - difficulty with simple things like how to deal with too many things that need cleaning in a small room... There was once a prescription that, for a brief time, made life feel like so much less of a jumbled mess... That too, gone, lost.

So it goes, loss. Sunsets and sunrises: the destitution may be real, and final in and of itself, but it isn't final in the wider sense. Regardless of how grim a ten of swords may be, it is rarely an endpoint. You move on. You get up and move forward, deal with the loss, adjust, put it behind you, for better or for worse. Things are very rarely, in retrospect, the kind of disaster that they feel like in the moment...


Inner Whispers said...

That really is a bleak Ten of Swords!

The poem, though also bleak, is very beautiful. And for some of us, the art of losing is most hard to master! I never lose my keys, or purse, or even umbrellas. The only time I lost my handbag was on a trip to Italy with friends when I left it with said friends while I made a phone call and someone stole it from them. Perhaps it makes me less resilient to the vagaries of life, convinced I should be able to control everything....

Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

Beautiful post. Can you call your phone and maybe someone honest will pick it up and answer, and reunite you?

One of the things I've told Rob for many years is "when I'm old and can't remember anything, just keep reminding me I couldn't remember anything when I was young either."

Bonkers said...

it's one of my most favorite poems, probably because it resonates so often!

and calling it i tried, as well as asking bus drivers, checking lost and found, etc. unfortunately the battery has been dying quickly as of late and once that died (or someone turned it off, but likely the battery just went) no real way to find. I lose a phone at least once a year and sometimes as often as three times a year (plus keys, debit cards, credit cards, umbreallas, ipods, random important papers, school name it) so quite practiced in madly running around trying to find and then having to give up.

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