The Art of Losing

To Elizabeth Bishop

                Have you heard of the room
​on 23rd street? It is a loosely kept secret,
​a place where lost things go. Bundles
​of faraway winters, scraps of a day
​carefully folded, recipes, gossip sealed
​in cellotape and staples, broken bridges
​between mainland and green-blue orphan.
​Have you seen how they hide, spill
​out of each other? Read the ransom notes?

I need help, Elizabeth. I need to learn to wink
at lost letters, laughters, lovers ― your art
of letting continents slip through fingers
(no broken bones). I need the clocklessness
of missing pasts and futures. I need to throw
houses like boulders. I need not to chase
them down on all fours. Teach me your secret,

Elizabeth, how long does it take? I mean
the unstaining. How long for the melting
of little leaden balls lodged below ribs?
How long before faraway frost fades

into green? Before cellotape and staples
dissolve, before a letter is reborn
as spoon or jellyfish? How long, Elizabeth?

This poem was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Vayavya


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