The Art of Losing

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like like disaster.

We are all marked by loss, by losing things, people, places. Humanity is marked by being able to lose things and yet not to forgotten them. The trick is to learn to lose well, to live well amid the losses.

Or perhaps the trick is to reverse the process so that it is not a disaster, but a movement to green pasture. From the loss of a world that won’t stay to a journey to one that won’t leave.

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