Monday, August 28, 2006

Mastering Disaster

No matter what the calendar says, summer ends on different days for different families.

For me, it is when the Boy returns to school, taking with him his quotes from Pogo, or Monty Python, or the Marx Brothers, or moving lines from songs I’ve never heard of.

The house grows still, even though he’s not that noisy. The tickety of laptop keys is not all that raucous. The turning of pages in a James Lileks book isn’t boisterous.

But the sounds of Another in one’s space are more than sound and more than simply taking space. It involves making room for Another for a while, and then letting him go…so the space fills with silence even as I picture his trajectory and he rides away in a car jammed to the roof with his possessions.

Or, rather, most of his possessions. This seems to be a season of loss for him: his wallet (or rather, the wallet of his grandfather, which he has used since carrying a wallet became necessary), the portfolio of all his beloved CDs collected over the years of his adolescence, his computer – whose hard drive could not be retrieved and with it went his photos, back-ups of his music…and that part of our identity which comes to rest within the matrices of a machine that we use every blesséd day for years. That particular laptop followed him from dorm room to dorm room for three years and now it is gone, its contents irretrievable.

I reminded him of the following poem and he remembered it from a class he’d taken last year:

One Art

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.


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