Bereavement

by Sylvia Evelyn Maclagan
Mosaic Musings
Honorable Mention, July 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


I’m used to loss itself;
it’s trivial things that smart, wear out my heart:
orphaned mug on kitchen shelf,
terrace table grown too long,
and by its side a wooden chair, vacant.
Without end, they caution strong,
shadowing me in endless pageant.

I disregard remorse for churlish word,
fixed angry looks… Oh misplaced books!
Or grief for tenderness demurred
through life’s uncertain lane.
It’s the scrutiny of minor things in winter
depths, an enduring bane
by which my heart grows fainter.


"Bereavement" is subtly song-like, the register just off centre ("Without end, they caution strong"), attractively so, I thought. A ruffled surface may indicate more underwater activity. I wondered how to read "Oh misplaced books!" - how straight, how far a conscious gesture. The lines afterwards suggested it was straight. As straight rhetoric the last five lines were maybe just a touch overwrought. But the ear for phrase was impressive and the first verse very promising. How to balance inflation with deflation? Hard to know. --George Szirtes

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