Tag Archives: loss

Brilliance

Are you finding yourself unwilling to love? You could be protecting yourself from inevitable loss. But, can you ultimately protect yourself from the unexpected renegade designed perfectly for your defenses?

 

Brilliance                    Mark Doty

Maggie’s taking care of a man
who’s dying; he’s attended to everything,
said goodbye to his parents,

paid off his credit card.
She says Why don’t you just
run it up to the limit? 

but he wants everything
squared away, no balance owed,
though he misses the pets

he’s already found a home for
— he can’t be around dogs or cats,
too much risk. He says,

I can’t have anything.
She says, A bowl of goldfish?
He says he doesn’t want to start

with anything and then describes
the kind he’d maybe like,
how their tails would fan

to a gold flaring. They talk
about hot jewel tones,
gold lacquer, say maybe

they’ll go pick some out
though he can’t go much of anywhere and then
abruptly he says I can’t love

anything I can’t finish.
He says it like he’s had enough
of the whole scintillant world,

though what he means is
he’ll never be satisfied and therefore
has established this discipline,

a kind of severe rehearsal.
That’s where they leave it,
him looking out the window,

her knitting as she does because
she needs to do something.
Later he leaves a message:

Yes to the bowl of goldfish. 
Meaning: let me go, if I have to,
in brilliance. In a story I read,

a Zen master who’d perfected
his detachment from the things of the world
remembered, at the moment of dying,

a deer he used to feed in the park,
and wondered who might care for it,
and at that instant was reborn

in the stunned flesh of a fawn.
So, Maggie’s friend —
Is he going out

into the last loved object
of his attention?
Fanning the veined translucence

of an opulent tail,
undulant in some uncapturable curve,
is he bronze chrysanthemums,

copper leaf, hurried darting,
doubloons, icon-colored fins
troubling the water?

 

 

Living Apart

Last semester I apologized for all the poems I had been presenting with loss in them. In choosing poems, I look for story, dualities, feeling, images, truth and relevant subject to the world we live in. If you’ve ever been in a book group you know the best discussions result when there isn’t full agreement about how delightful the book was. I don’t look for disagreement, but I do like to stir the pot, especially when making a hearty stew.

The following short poem beautifully offers a big story. The layers help pull good writing forth.

Living Apart                                                                                             Lynne Knight

 

My mother is not a person I can ask about sex.

Her body is like a building she has driven past

on the way to somewhere else, not paying

much heed. She knows the major stories,

but that’s about it. Until she fractured it last year,

she had no idea where her pelvis was.

She speaks of her insides, her plumbing.

But she is not a stupid woman,

 

so I can talk to her about need.

She knows about the spirit, having lived apart

from the body for so long. She says I mustn’t be

too greedy. She loves me, but then there is the world.

The cold place, she calls it. If I could talk to her

about sex, I could ask her if she thinks I crave

the spirit like a lover who just uses you,

takes and takes and then leaves—

 

if that’s what she means by my greed.

We all need something, she said the other day

when I visited. She was looking out at the woman

who walks up and down the street all day long

like someone who’s lost her door.

The poor soul, my mother says, and waves,

though the woman can’t see her.

I want to know if the hollow my mother feels then

 

is the same as I feel after sex, like watching

someone lose the body altogether in the distance.

But when I talk about my love, simple things

like how he fixes salmon, a little lime and butter,

cilantro, my mother looks away, as if I’m talking

of sex in disguise. So, instead I sit quiet, like spirit,

thinking if I practice living apart from the body,

my greed for hers won’t break when she’s gone.