The Art of Losing

Jill McKeowen

The art of losing is not hard to master…
                     Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

I do not master well this art of losing—
last year our Dad, and now the house is sold.
Instinctively, I grieve for all that’s passing.

So many homes we’ve had—we’re used to moving—
yet strange to see Mum taking charge alone.
We pack and sweep, distracted from our losing.

The timber rooms are bared of chairs and laughing,
grandkids, summer sleeping on the floor—
this house of trees and birds is light in passing.

In Dad’s shed, we go through shelves disposing—
but linger over tools we watched him hold.
In reverie, we divvy up our losing.

These things are worn, a testament outlasting
our tenured place and days, our crazy hope—
yet will become just things beyond our passing.

From vacant house and yard I turn, embracing
the present need—we have somewhere to go.
The better choice: accept that life is losing—
the art of it is mastered in the passing.