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“Loss is No Disaster” 18×24, oil on canvas, $350.00 Buy Now

 

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.

 

My friend recommended this poem to me. I’d read it before, years ago, but reading it again and again the last few days forced me to consider my losses: phones that fell into water and sat, doomed, in useless bowls of rice; keys I left sitting on the bumper of my car and then drove away, losing them forever; the leftovers in the fridge gone bad and wastefully dumped into the trash, friends from a different time, cities, homes, miscarriages, divorce.

I have a lot to say about loss. But for now I’m going to simply settle for what I think is advice at the end of the poem: write it! In this case, paint it.