I have finished reading through this special anthology (The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing) and made little notes in the list of poems within the table of contents: "wow" next to some, stars by quite a few and "I don't get it" next to others. It seems like a good plan to share some of the "wow" poems each anniversary month.
First, another quote from the introduction that rings true:
The process of grief, I have found, can mirror that of writing: it is surprising, trying, frustrating, daunting, terrifying, comforting, chastening, challenging, and at times, heartening; grief can provide fellowship with others interested in the experience; it brings out the best in us, and at times the worst, if only because it is utterly human. It can feel inevitable, but it is so personal, so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf. Yet poetry, like grief, can be the thing that bridges the gap between us, that brings us together and binds us.This poem makes me wonder what Josh's friends, close and peripheral, will remember after another seventeen years. Will they still "hear" him?
by Simon Armitage
We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face
I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,
I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.
He called from over the park - I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,
from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm -
I lifted an arm.
He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.
Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.