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The Privacy of Loss

Sometimes I wonder if there are any private processes anymore. What was innovative in art in the twentieth-century included the then-radical framing of things that were private or controversial or even just mundane. It all gave way to 'concept art' in some ways: the idea that if we saw something in a specialized context we might pay it more mind and also that it might enrich our minds, stoke our imaginations as well. My disquisition ends here. I'm no art historian. And as a reader of poetry, I'm mighty biased. I grew up on Christina Rosetti and a lot of Lutheran hymns. I like the phyllo leaves of words buttered with rhymes. A good poem or a minor-key hymn is a lot like a good baklava or a particularly well-made spanakopita: lots of layers, crunchiness melding with the either sweet or savory filling and that spice or herb or vague hint on the tongue you can't quite name, yet know. By now I'm used to there being nothing much that's private.We text, Tweet, share on FB, send emails. "Share my pain, share my joy, share my utter banal existence" seem to be our marching orders. And for the most part, I get it. I accept it. And at our best we're organizing flash mobs. At our worst, insurrections.

That's why death is both different and daunting. A close relative of mine is dying. And all that matters in these days of uncertainty is that there is ample silence and ample peace so that the clutter of words doesn't obscure the truth. We live in numbered days. If it's true the gods have denied us immortality but granted us human affection, then our time is best spent in holding on to each other--at least for now. Until our imaginations can jump the gap once more between what is and what our wishing says is so.

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