Monday, May 28, 2007

Moving Is an Art

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 (Write it!) like disaster.

From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.

Moving is an art, and I am not very good at it. This wonderful poem captures the feelings of the leavings. In a mobile world, two people--one of whom is me--left New England ten years ago. We were quite happy where we were, but as husband Bill says, "We go where the work is." That meant Georgia for five years. Then that meant Arkansas for five years. The 'art of losing isn't hard to master.' Except on the days when it felt impossible. Tennessee Williams' narrator, Tom, said in The Glass Menagerie, that their father worked for the phone company and fell in love with long distance. Some people enjoy fresh starts. Me? Not so much.

Now it's time to move back. We are building a house. We will wind up with friends and family and know where everything is. Hot dog rolls will open at the top. The ocean will be a mere three hours away. More importantly, the poem's last paragraph disaster of loss does not apply here. I can accept the fluster and the floundering and the fickle unpredictables because we are returning home. Together.


bevjackson said...

Ahhhhhh, you would have to know I love this--a poem for your very basis! And what a touching post. I know how much going home means to you and I'm SO happy for you--fluster and all. xoxox

Roberta said...

Beverly, you'll make your move a masterpiece, I am certain.

LabMom said...

I beg to differ about you not being good at moving. In fact, I think you're quite good at it. You organize and decorate; you find new venues in which to share your expertise (teaching, writing, etc.); you keep up your work as wife, nana, and correspondent from any place you find yourself. So, whether you like moving or not, you are, indeed, good at it. Put that on your next resume, chickadee! I'll look forward to welcoming you home.