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.