Monday, January 29, 2007

The Art of Losing

This is a painting by my brother-in-law's father. It was inspired by a picture of my sister and her husband with my nephew on the pier in New London. I took a shot of the painting when I was back in CT over Thanksgiving.

I am back from Ohio. The work there went well but it was too brief a trip to do much else except catch a cold, forget my phone charger in the hotel room, and leave a copy of The Peloponnesian War in the glove box of a rental car. (That reminds me we watched Troy this weekend and while not great it was infinitely better than Oliver Stone's swords and sandals piece of dung Alexander which we attempted last week and ended up fast forwarding the last 90 minutes with the subtitles turned on. Anyway, I was reading about Sparta and Athens in preparation for The 300 until losing the book but I digress.)

I excel at losing things on trips. I left a pair of dress shoes in Baltimore after a long weekend at Camden Yards to see the Red Sox. I misplaced a phone charger in Mesa after the most recent presidential election but at least they mailed that one back to me...for a slight fee. There also was a baseball cap in Columbus last spring along with another phone charger. Carelessness, I realize it as such but Elizabeth Bishop puts it in perspective.

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.

2 comments:

Churlita said...

Because you don't have teenage daughters, you probably don't know this or care, but Cameron Diaz reads this very poem in, In Her Shoes. But she's supposedly illiterate and so she reads it by sounding out the words and it's stupid and not believable. Gee, I'm a hell of a commenter, aren't I?

Dexter said...

I remember seeing a preview of this and had hopes for an E.B. resurrgence. Alas.