Still In School

The Shadow of the Lost Object Falls Across the Ego

My poem appears in the new issue of In-Flight Literary Magazine.

 

A faint image, so vague you hardly know
if what you miss so much was there to begin with.
Other times, what once seemed so present
sucks the breath away, you gasp for air—
but only for a second.  You don’t die, not yet, anyway—
that’s a long way off, though at this moment there’s
darkness, the tight grip on the belly, the dank sheets,
the narrow bed traded for the old, accommodating one.
This wave of absence edges out hunger, and the need
to stand under the pelting water
of the morning shower. Nothing is as it should be, or
as it was. Freud, who got almost nothing right,
explained it: The ego bends under the weight of loss,
flattened, wanting to sink into stink and hunger.
This is all insupportable. You take a decision,
climb out of your sweat-soaked bed,
plod down wooden stairs in slippers,
pretend there’s something to get up for,
if only a nod from the man who every trash day
combs the overflowing barrels.