Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lost to the Sea

"The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem to be filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster [...]"
--- Elizabeth Bishop from "One Art"

Where has the month gone? February, strange warm February, has skittered away from us as if it were bouncing then caught by a playful gust of wind....

Balls are at once delightful and cruel toys. Much like balloons or socks, they seem to have been designed with "the intent to be lost."

Blueberry takes her beloved blue ball to the beach. Bounces it.

The ball finds itself unhanded, the ball likes its freedom.

At this point I cannot help but refer you to Berryman's "The Ball Poem."

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over--there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went.

I encourage you to read the rest of the poem -- an incredible musing on the "epistemology of loss" -- but Blueberry, watching the ball taken by the wind and drift of the tide, experiences the loss without Berryman's "ultimate shaking grief ," but rather with wistful acceptance. I refuse, yes refuse, to compare Bishop's version of loss ("Practice losing something everyday") to Berryman's ("People will take balls, /Balls will be lost always, little boy, /And no one buys a ball back.") because, well, it gets too gendered. But my darling girl takes her disaster in stride. She cries for a brief moment, realizes the ocean is far too cold to race in after her ball, then asks if we can sing a goodbye song to the ball. She imagines the ball finding its way over the sea to another child. It is graceful. She is practicing.

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