advent apertures 2019: day 13

What little I know, I hold closer,

more dear, especially now

that I take the daily

reinvention of loss as my teacher.

I will never graduate from this college,

whose M.A. translates

“Master of Absence,”

with a subtext in the imperative:

Misplace Anything.

If there’s anything I want, it’s that more

people I love join the search party.

You were once renowned

among friends for your luck

in retrieving from the wayside

the perfect bowl for the kitchen,

or a hand carved deer, a pencil drawn

portrait of a young girl

whose brimming innocence

still makes me ache. Now

the daily litany of common losses

goes like this: Do you have

your wallet, keys, glasses, gloves,

giraffe? Oh dear, I forgot

my giraffe—that’s the preferred

response, but no: it’s usually

the glasses, the gloves, the wallet.

The keys I’ve hidden.

I’ve signed you up for “safe return”

with a medallion (like a diploma)

on a chain about your neck.

 

Okay, today, this writing,

I’m amused by the art of losing. 

I bow to Elizabeth Bishop, I try

“losing faster”—but when I get

frantic, when I’ve lost

my composure, my nerve, my patience,

my compassion, I have only

what little I know

to save me. Here’s what I know:

it’s not absence I fear, but anonymity.

I remember taking a deep breath,

stopped in my tracks. I’d been

looking for an important document

I had myself misplaced;

high and low, no luck yet. 

I was “beside myself,”

so there may have indeed been

my double running the search party.

“Stop,” you said gently. “I’ll go

get Margaret. She’ll know where it is.”

“But I’m Margaret,” I wailed.

“No, no.” You held out before me

a copy of one of my books,

pointing to the author’s photograph,

someone serious and composed.

“You know her. Margaret

Gibson, the poet.” We looked

into each others’ eyes a long time.

The earth tilted on its axis,

and what we were looking for,

each other and ourselves,

took the tilt, and we slid into each others’ arms,

holding on for dear life, holding on.

 

‘Losing It’

Margaret Gibson

 

An encounter that might hold a revelation: my reaction veers from welcome to running away.  Now, I find I am babbling incoherently with rage.  Out of all my fears, I erupt in a torrent of words about all the times God didn’t do something – in my life, in the lives of those I love, in the lives of those souls I don’t even know – and now an angel dares interrupt me and demand I do this? 

“Why should I join in with Your plans, when You clearly have no intention of joining in with mine?  Your priorities cannot possibly be worth following.  I defy You!”

I slam my shutters down in Your face.  I shake with the adrenalin of my terror and hug myself tight as the isolation comes crashing in, paralysing my every attempt to react differently in this moment. 

In my panic, I can see nothing – nothing of You, nothing of how I am in You, nothing of who You made me to be.

In my blindness, how can it be true that my darkness is not dark to God?

 

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.

Ansel Adams

shut in (bl)shut in. iPhone image.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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