Losing Season

Maybe all of life is a losing season.
We start and we build, we want to hold on to
Love, connection, tribal belonging
Babies and husbands and flower beds
Talent. Discipline. Improvement.
We play instruments, run races, write papers.
Try to be a good daughter.
It all matters—it all feels like it matters so much.
We send our kids outside to build independence.
We tell them to watch for cars so that they don’t get killed.
But they will.
They will—and it all goes away.
Every day a cat dead or a dog lost. A friend with a cough, a lump, a feeling.
A tree loses its leaves. Over and over again.
iPad left in the rain—the last remnant I had
of my father’s voice, of his face when he looked at my sons.
Losing him was one thing. Losing those sounds—those ghost
Sounds. Feels unbearable.

Basketball season a total loss—except the last game
We beat the only other team that had lost all their games
And this does not feel like winning.
Baseball season a total loss. All the games lost.
And still my son walks off the field bright-eyed
And smiling. He got to play.
He got to take a swing. He got to throw pitches. He got to get runners out on first.
He is thrilled. He is muddy.
He’s on the team. The team for which there weren’t even any tryouts.
This is not an accomplishment by any stretch of an American’s imagination.
Maybe it isn’t accomplishment he seeks.
Maybe it is something else.

These legs, I train them—to run fast, to run a long time, to run up hills without stopping.
I’ll lose them. One day they won’t run anymore. They won’t carry me.

My husband, I talk to him and I listen. We sit together and we build
something between us. One day we won’t exist anymore as the two of us.
There will be one of us, or none of us. Where will it go—what we’ve built?

What will outlast the losing?

It all falls down? All of it?

Or is there a trace? Is there a shadow—something
at the end that shows where you once stood,
where you once breathed,
where you once slept and cried and prayed.
Your voice as it was when you were tiny
and when you were new to love
and when you had seen it all—where will the voices be kept?


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