I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

20 September 2009

The Definition of Lost

30 Poems in 30 Days: Day 16
Write a definition poem. A definition poem takes a word or a concept and attempts to define it, 
provide perspective, redefine it, or create a definitive example of it.

It’s this three-year-old girl
face screwed up
eyes and nose streaming,
turning in frantic circles
looking and looking and looking
for one familiar point
in the swirl of large legs and bodies
noisy faces thrusting, asking,
“Where’s your Mummy?” – as if
that wasn’t the whole problem –
in the strange new landscape
of the picnic ground.

It must have been only a moment,
then she’d have reappeared.
A little woman, as I discovered
when I was much older,
she’d been hidden, perhaps,
by the crowd. Maybe
I let go her hand
and so we were separated
briefly, but long enough.

I always thought my ridiculous
fear of losing my way
in unfamiliar places
came from that time the conductor
put me off the tram when I was seven
for tendering the wrong fare.
I cried and wailed then too,
feeling not only small
but somehow dirty,
until kind strangers took me home –
at least I was well taught
to remember my address.

But now, in old age, exploring
that distress, that panic,
that wretchedness,
I find the three-year-old,
her terrified abandonment
my defining moment
of being lost.

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