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A Poem for a Thursday #23

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash


Elizabeth Bishop was born in 1911 in Worcester, Massachusetts (about 30 miles from me) and grew up there and in Novia Scotia. She was a respected poet in her lifetime but has come to more and more prominence in the years since her death. She only published 101 poems because she was a perfectionist and spent a long time refining each poem. Her poems are "marked by precise descriptions of the physical world and an air of poetic serenity, but her underlying themes include the struggle to find a sense of belonging, and the human experiences of grief and longing." Those themes come through clearly in the poem for today.

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. 

One Art 
Elizabeth Bishop

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On Grumpy Kids and Being Weird



Apparently, the world is caving in around my house tonight or at least it is according to my daughter. Life is unfair, boring, and absolutely not something she is enjoying right now. And no, she isn't grumpy at all. What could I possibly mean? And no, she doesn't want to do any of the things  I suggest. And yes, she is sure everyone else in the entire town is having more fun than her.

What can I say? She might be right. It is 8:23 on a Tuesday evening and we are doing basically nothing. I am happy with that. She isn't. We usually have a meeting we go to on Tuesdays but it is canceled for the week and I thought that meant a nice, quiet evening at home. I don't think nice, quiet evenings are in a 13-year-old's vocabulary.

It is a bit of a shock because I have always called Celia my little ray of sunshine but thirteen is rough and no 13-year-old is ever a little ray of sunshine. I am not sure any 13-year-old would ever want to be a ray of sunshine. It would obviously call too much attention to them. And it would be embarrassing. Moodiness and embarrassment are the two main emotions of a thirteen-year-old. I know this because Celia was embarrassed by me the other day. She informed me that I was too loud. I know most of you don't know me in real life but let me just say that I have never in my life before been told I am too loud. I am told I am too quiet with great regularity but too loud?! It was such a novel feeling that I just stood there and enjoyed it for a moment.

Both kids recently told me that I am weird. I was discussing the slight oddities of someone we know and they told me I couldn't say anything because I am weird too. They say no one else they know has a house made up of books (I wish. It is only lined with books.) and that I am unusually fascinated by London and WWII social history. I think Celia muttered something about my collection of vintage purses and pleated, wool skirts but I ignored that. The kids did point out that everyone is weird in their own way; we just like our own brand of weirdness so we don't notice it as much. I suppose that is true.

I suppose the nice thing about being not-13 is that I don't mind being weird. I don't mind being occasionally too loud. I don't mind being home on a random Tuesday. I definitely don't mind having a house lined with books.

Now if only I could find a way to banish the clouds and bring back my little ray of sunshine.*

*Her brother has somehow cheered her up by insulting her. No, I don't understand why that worked either.  Kids are weird. She also is laughing about how old I am because I said trampoline parks weren't around when I was a kid. Then she worried I felt bad and asked if I felt old. I said no, I liked my age and had no desire to be 13 again. She looked at me very solemnly and said: "I don't think anyone wants to be thirteen." Now she is asking what age I would be if I could be any age. I said 28. What would you say?






A Poem for a Thursday #22

Photo by Aaron Mello on Unsplash
Emily Dickinson lived in Amherst, Massachusetts in relative isolation for most of her life. Much of her interaction with others depended on correspondence. Only a few of her approximately 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime and those were edited to fit in with the poetic conventions of the day. Her poems frequently have short lines, lack titles, and use unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Dickinson was as unconventional as her poems and now, 130 years or more after her death, has a devoted following.

Dear March - Come in -
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before-
Put down your Hat-
You must have walked-
How out of Breath you are-
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest-
Did you leave Nature well-
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me-
I have so much to tell- 

I got your Letter, and the Birds-
The Maples never knew that you were coming-
I declare-how Red their Faces grew-
But March, forgive me-
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue-
There was no Purple suitable-
You took it all with you-

Who knocks? That April-
Lock the Door-
I will not be pursued-
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied-
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come.

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame-

Dear March-Come in
Emily Dickinson

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