how the past comes back


How the Past Comes Back
Natasha Trethewey

Like shadow across a stone,
the name it darkens;

as one enters the world
through language–
like a child learning to speak
then naming
everything; as flower,

the neglected hydrangea
endlessly blossoming–
year after year
each bloom a blue refrain; as

the syllables of birdcall
coalescing in the trees,
a single word:

as the dead bird’s bright signature–
days after you buried it–
a single red feather
on the window glass

in the middle of your reflection.

Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

to my fifties



To My Fifties
Jane Hirshfield

You opened me
as a burglar opens a house with a silent alarm.
I opened you
as a burglar opens a house with a silent alarm.

We knew we had to work quickly,
bears ecstatic, not minding the stinging.

Or say it was this:

We were the wax paper bag
in which something was wrapped.
What was inside us
neither opaque not entirely transparent.
Afterward, we were folded into neat creases.

Or this:

Say we were paired
cupping two dates, a hyphen,
and much that continues unspoken.


We were our own future,
a furnace invented to burn itself up.

Photo by Amruth Pillai on Unsplash

the wall


The Wall
Laura Kasischke

One night from the other side
of a motel wall made of nothing but
sawdust and pink stuff, I
listened as a man cried
to someone on the telephone
that all he wanted
to do before he died
was to come home.
“I want to come home!”
That night a man cried
until I was ankle-deep in sleep,
and then up to my neck, wading
like a swimmer
or like a suicide
through the waves
of him crying
and into the deep
as icebergs cracked into halves,
as jellyfish, like thoughts, were
passed secretly between people.
And the seaweed, like
the sinuous soft green hair
of certain beauty queens,
washed up by the sea.
Except that we
were in Utah, and one of us
was weeping
while the other one
was sleeping, with
nothing but a thin, dry
wall between us.

3 types


Three Types of Loss
Andrei Codrescu

The loss of one’s temper in a room with absolutely nobody
to catch it
is a loss of time insofar
as time is the only place things
get lost in naturally

losing things constantly implies
a frequency of loss which when measured
is equal to the wavelength one is on in
relation to the things one loses

action that cannot be translated in loss is the only
worth remembering

things doomed to loss meet
and get lost together that much faster

all things have in common a tendency to get lost
it is only human affections that
keep them in place

then there is a person called Mr. Loss
who answers house calls the same way
a doctor does—he is supposed
to diagnose the condition of things
on the move and by inevitably confirming
everyone’s worst fears he makes
the condition official

the universe gets lost
and then reappears bathed
in a different light

everything has a place to get lost in
and this certainty makes
most things stay put

since one does not lose what one
does not have
most things make themselves necessary

loss of memory after a sleepless night

implies that the things one could have been

dreaming about were the nails that kept
those memories in place

loss of memory at a certain point of heightened interest
in the thing one can’t remember
proves the fact that although this is
a universe of nonsimultaneous phenomena
most things would like to be seen in context

memory disregards context
it is an enemy of experience
therefore unreliable and since
basic memory is a condition of survival
i assume that we survive
in spite of experience

when one forgets as a philosophy
each forgotten thing is raised to the status
of a god (i.e. an objective condition)
and makes everyone else remember
things that they haven’t experienced

some memories bring with them brand new
experiences different
than the original contexts in which they occurred
and thus set up the conditions
for brand new memories

most things endowed with memory die

prenatal memory is common property
but it is not

words and pictures are the only
things one can forget at leisure
and look up later

what gets lost in translation
reappears in disbelief

translation is the only form of communication
where loss is practiced
as part of the game

literal translations lose music while
poetic translations lose the original

elements which translate themselves
into other elements
do so at the expense of energy

fat translators are common:
they feed on what they cannot translate

the conscious and the unconscious
are languages in a state of translation
and their respective losses
are the gods

translated in english
most things take off their clothes

things lost in translation
band together symbiotically
and haunt the world

war is an aggregate of losses
through translation

the day is a literal translation
the night is a poetic translation

energies translate without apparent loss
but the use of them
makes up by being pure loss

translation and use are in a parenthetical

fate is the necessity for translation

Photo by Alex Dukhanov on Unsplash



Sandra Lim

Spring obliges
my imagination
of return
it annihilates it
What is death
but reason
in flawless submission
to itself
not reason
something stonier

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


bedtime story


Bedtime Story for the Bruised-Hearted
Donika Kelly

The trees were all women once,
fleeing a god whetted with lust

until their fathers changed them, bound
their bodies in bark, and still the god took:

a branch to crown his own head,
the reeds to hold his breath.

How like them, our fathers,
those small gods who unearthed

their children with rage,
who scored the bark

and bent the branch
to bind their bodies with our own.

Tonight, my love, we are free
of men, of gods, and I am a river

against you, drawn to current and eddy,
ready to make, to be unmade.

Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash