“The art of losing isn’t hard to master. Some things are filled with the intent to be lost, that their loss is no disaster”
I’ve always known that someday I’d write about Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘One Art’, I just didn’t know why. Because I sometimes feel like the grieving poet; slippery, hollow, slightly as vague and just as selfish. ‘One Art’ speaks of a world not seen, a love not known, a place where nothing is owned and so nothing is ever lost.
“then practice losing farther, losing faster — places and names and where it was you meant to travel. None of this will bring disaster”.
Once you accept the first great loss that rips you apart, the second feels like a drawn-out scratch on your skin, the third, a mere annoyance — like a fly at the mouth of your Coke bottle. Soon, losing anything will become a game you play with yourself to see how quickly you become whole again after coming undone, over and over.
But time is a cruel but dedicated tutor, life happens and nothing truly comes without a price.
Maman used to tell me I had the wandering eyes of an infant child. “You always want everything”, she would add. In truth, I am in awe of the world. That every feeling is a different sensation, every human person, a universe of cells and chemicals on their own, that everything we see and touch — leaves, trees, rocks — are cut so finely and precisely that nothing ever stands out of place.
I’ve managed to keep most of my childlike lust for life over time, but its ephemera has disillusioned me. A young maid taught me when I was eight that naivety is a curse of the curious mind. All I did was stare at my reflection in her glassy eyes as her palm spread wide and slipped into my boxer shorts. Three years later, I’m learning the concept of forever is a myth. My ‘best friend for life’ is dead from internal bleeding after her parent’s fleeing maiguard gave her ‘something’ inside his room. One morning after my sixteenth birthday, I’m driving Maman to the airport, out of a marriage she could no longer make excuses to stay in. Just before backing away into departures, she pulls me into a hug and whispered, “Dá rí jì mí, ọkọ mí” with a sniffle; a crimson goodbye and casual reminder that even the sacred bond of family will only remain if the people choose not to sever it.
Nothing is forever.
You see, the brilliance of mastering the art of losing is learning how to let go. Understanding that love comes with hate, joy comes with pain, and that the gray line between white and black will always be the thickest. For one with eyes like mine, the world is a playground in a sandbox. No matter how badly I fall, I go still dey alright. They never really tell you this, but once you numb off the reality of loss, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
- Maiguard – (pronounced: ma-y-guard) Security Guard
- “Dá rí jì mí, ọkọ mí”- “forgive me, my husband”