Grief’s Weird Sister, Gratitude

How to read a tome of Collected Poems?
Read one that pivotally changes you
and lose track of the page and title.
How to clean a house? Lose your ring in it.

Milosz not having to make peace one day
because the people are dead, nor revisit
some cities of his blood, because they are
razed. I’m still reading for that one.

If I wince that I got cuppy, said too much,
maybe years ago, sometimes the sudden
knowledge that my auditor is no longer
will come in as wistful relief, if with grief.

So I’d like to find it. This “how” isn’t
an engineering question, but angle,
here alchemically
translated to hope by way of loss.


Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Michael Hecht. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The Milosz poem I can’t find reminded me of having over-shared at a party to a fellow scholar, a severely mean and brilliant much older woman by whom I’d long been fascinated. I enjoyed her complete attention that night, but later had remorse, until we lost her. Now a chance memory of the true-crime tale I told still brings a flicker of shame, but it is snuffed out like a candle when I recall where she is now. The poem links its many losses with my dear and departed arch scholar, and admits to benefits. Without a poem that said these things, I wrote one, and feel much better—another benefit of loss. Still, if anyone knows the Milosz poem in question, please contact me through my website.”
—Jennifer Michael Hecht