Our optional prompt for the day takes its cue from how poetry can help us to make concrete the wild abstraction of a feeling like grief. “The Lost Pilot” does this, as does this poem by Victoria Chang, called “Obit.” In both poems, loss is made tangible. They take elusive, overwhelming feelings, and place them into the physical world, in part through their focus on things we can see and hear and touch. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. This may not be a “fun” prompt, but loss is one of the most universal and human experiences, and some of the world’s most moving art is an effort to understand and deal with it.
Alone, he sits on an iron cot
staring ahead at the white plastered walls-
damp patches of green, remnants of the rain
Rivulets run down the glass pane –
Tears of desperation; minutes like hours,
He does all that it takes to stay alive
But it is ‘the end,’ that he longs for,
the last beat –
Will God be kind? He lies in dread.
He’s seen it all; the ‘moving on,’
the memories fade,
and the elegies
They mean nothing to him-
The poems, the words, the song in his honor
He’s been gone a long time now-
Since her ashes, he scattered in the holy rivers
Since the last time they told him,he had a visitor
Since when his phone rang; was it two or three years ago?
He’s been dead long now,
He’s just waiting –
For the breathing to stop.
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P.C. From the Net
A good life you led, houses you bought, but
You lie in bed all day, for there is a pain in every bone
yet you do everything in your