Missing Loved Ones

Missing Loved Ones

You marvel that a simple garment retains so much of a person’s
being. I watch the worm swinging on its long thread

from one side of the door’s frame to the other,
wondering how to avoid it should I go out, but a sparrow

solves that problem. In 365 BC, Gan De detected what was likely
Ganymede, but history records no other sightings until Galileo

in January, 1610. Thus an entity with twice the mass of our
moon went missing for 1,900 years, which helps explain

the parameters of oblivion. But nothing equals the heft
and gravitational pull of those we miss – the dead, the gone,

the lost, the never-coming-back – a friend’s laughter
still echoing twenty years later, a lover’s taste and smell

rekindled with each autumn’s first fire, or the dog’s warmth.
Small wonder that we ever exit the house, leaving these

companions behind. I watch the sparrow snatch another
snack, and consider the mechanics of loss. Ubiquitous, but

generated anew. Unique yet common, unfelt and devastating.
Late at night, you say, I draw comfort from cloth, stroke

the once inhabited trousers or the flannel sheets resting
in the drawer. This scarf, her love. That shirt, my heart.

“Missing Loved Ones” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was subsequently published in Eclectica in summer 2017. Many thanks to editor Jen Finstrom for accepting the poem, and to Emily Bailey, good friend of many years and former office mate, for sponsoring the poem and suggesting the title.

39 thoughts on “Missing Loved Ones

  1. My four siblings left my home this morning after traveling 750 miles from Memphis and 300 miles from D.C. to my home in Raleigh for our annual get together in commemoration of our father’s four-year-ago and mother’s nine-year-back passings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Robert. Having lost my wife of 40 years last May, I really appreciate the solace of universality that this poem offers. I especially dig the phrase “the parameters of oblivion,” which brings to mind Ulysses to Achille’s in “Troilus and Cressida”: “Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,/Wherein he puts alms for oblivion.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One year, this past week, and I’m reminded I’m not really over a friend’s departure. Why am I surprised (but I am) by this, when I know ten, twenty, and more years are not enough to erase the pain when my mind turns to a loved one who is gone?
    You’ve captured that emptiness, perfectly, Bob. I am glad only that they are not fresh wounds.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The sparrow’s matter-of-fact snacking does tie into the “mechanics of loss” — it rings of truth — though, not tangibly, or even logically, as that would minimize its profundity. We *need* to perseverate on that exquisite split second of “holding surely in our grasp,” exactly because it necessarily precedes (indeed, causes) the agony of the “final slipping away.” So, we sign up for this — this guaranteed pain — because the alternative would be to resign ourselves to a sort of dangling transience in which nothing is ever misplaced, and no one is ever torn away from us, because there is nothing to hold in the first place, and the only certainty is, essentially, bird lunch oblivion.

    The choice we have is a mixed blessing for sure. 😢

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your heartfelt poem, for me has a great warmth, and you deeply touched my heart with your beautiful words, I shall go sit at the dining table, lovingly covered with her favourite tablecloth, that I use more often than not, and I’ll have a glass of wine with her…………

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This brought back lots of bittersweet memories of my sister and grandfather… I’ve been doing some genealogical research recently and occasionally come across old photos I’ve never seen. I feel reconnected to folks I lost fifty years ago, but the longing to see them again is still strong. Folks keep echoing through our minds long after they’re gone.

    Liked by 1 person

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