I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
This poem is in the public domain.
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 disaster.
From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.
From Given Sugar, Given Salt (HarperCollins, 2001) by Jane Hirshfield. Copyright © 2001 by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted by permission of the author, all rights reserved.
You entered the bedroom and fell to your knees.
I wait the rest of my life to hear you say, I made a mistake.
Inside my chest, a mangle.
Inside yours, a deflating balloon.
You took the vacuum cleaner, the ironing board, the dish rack
and left me some lint, an iron to scorch shirts, one chipped plate.
I would like to say at least we perfected
entrances and exits, like professional stage actors
honing their craft, but even that’s a fantasy.
Mostly on TV the lions ate the hyenas
but sometimes the hyenas
formed a posse, and tore a lion up.
Occasionally you came in out of the rain
and I was glad to have you.
Copyright © 2014 by Courtney Queeney. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 24, 2014.
If you ain’t never watched your parents kiss
ain’t neva have them teach you
‘bout the way lips will to bend & curve
against a lover’s affirmation
If you ain’t never watched the knowing nod
of sweethearts worn away & soft
as a speaker box’s blown out hiss
If you ain’t witnessed the glue
that connected your mother & father
—how they fused their single selves
into the blunt fist of parents
If you ain’t sure there was a time when
their eyes held each other like a nexus
breaking the lock to dip dark marbles
into certain corners of a shot glass
If you ain’t never known a Saturday night
slick with shiny promises & clouds
wrapped wet in a Pendegrass croon
If you ain’t been taught how
a man hold you close so close
…it look like a crawl
If you ain’t had the memory
of your mother & father sliding
hip to hip Their feet whisper
a slow shuffle & shift Her hand
on his neck grip the shoulder of
a man that will pass his daughters
bad tempers & hands like bowls
If you ain’t watched a man
lean into a woman His eyes
a boat sliding across bronze
pillared in her auburn hair Her
throat holds the urge
to hear how her voice sounds against
the wind of him
If your skin can’t fathom the heat
of something as necessary as this…
Then you can’t know the hurricane
of two bodies how the bodies
can create the prospect of a sunrise
how that sunrise got a name
it sound like: a blues song;
a woman’s heart breaking;
From the record player skipping
the sky almost
Copyright © 2015 by Mahogany Browne. From Redbone (Willow Books, 2015). Used with permission of the author.
I needed, for months after he died, to remember our rooms—
some lit by the trivial, others ample
with an obscurity that comforted us: it hid our own darkness.
So for months, duteous, I remembered:
rooms where friends lingered, rooms with our beds,
with our books, rooms with curtains I sewed
from bright cottons. I remembered tables of laughter,
a chipped bowl in early light, black
branches by a window, bowing toward night, & those rooms,
too, in which we came together
to be away from all. And sometimes from ourselves:
I remembered that, also.
But tonight—as I stand in the doorway to his room
& stare at dusk settled there—
what I remember best is how, to throw my arms around his neck,
I needed to stand on the tip of my toes.
Copyright © 2015 by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 25, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.