Finding is Losing Something Else by Richard Brautigan
I read this somewhere and it will haunt me always: “how terrible it is to love something that death can touch.”
The death of poets I love brought me to tears. I think about Szymborska, who died on S.’ birthday. He adored her probably more than I did. I thought about her dying in her sleep. Hoped she was warm. Remembered that little smile at the corners of her mouth.
I think about Rich and all the things I owe her. I was on my knees rearranging my bookshelf when a friend told me she passed. I could never forget the floor, how the cold seeped into my bones. Remembered a class, freshman year, that changed a lot of things for me, because of her poem. Wished someone held her hand in her last few moments.
I think about Gilbert and his dementia, of words failing him, of him losing all the words! Of being at a nursing home. Of dying alone. Wondered if he asked for someone, remembered someone, in the end. Michiko. Linda. God, Linda. I cried for days. Nights.
The death of Brubeck broke my heart. I played La Paloma Azul over and over. I was alone in the house and I was mourning him, and my hand slipped on the remote and it skipped to Blue Rondo A La Turk and I curled into a ball, on the floor, by the sofa, feeling like the world has taken everything from me at last.
The death of hundreds who were washed out by the flood haunts me every night now. All those people I cannot save.
How does one begin writing about grief? Every time I do, it always seems an injustice to everything else I have not mourned.
I once wrote to C.: everything is fleeting, and nothing ever really lasts. This wounds me deeply—
You arrive at one moment, out of the blue, all of a sudden, like when you are riding a cab, or brushing your teeth, or turning to glance at someone—and suddenly the pain is there, the emptiness, the bleeding. And there is only so much you can do, so much you can hold on to.
She replied with: And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
Brautigan says, in his book where this poem appears, I mean: Can you forgive yourself—
I think I’m getting there.
Finding is Losing Something Else
Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this.
From Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork by Richard Brautigan, published by Simon and Schuster, 1976.