"I have finally mastered letting go."
There’s no sense in worrying about something you can’t avoid, he reasons. But what about olives stuffed with fat cloves of garlic and preserved lemon? I ask, desperate for a concession I know won’t come. What about red wine gliding through your veins like a gondola on a river? The first few seconds of each morning before my brain peels away the covers. My Lisa Frank unicorn notebook from fifth grade in which I wrote I don’t have any feelings. The fact that crows can memorize human faces. The first boy I ever liked who whispered cállate to me in the school cafeteria. The way your feet sink into the sand when a wave unravels itself over them. A diner bell dinging when your food’s up. The curtain rings my grandaunt once gave me as a birthday gift, mistaking them for bracelets. Learning to recite all fifty states in alphabetical order. What about those things? My friend wants me to let go, to become a sand mandala. He wants me to be okay with the idea that billions of our colorful particles will one day scatter like birdseed into the ether and none of this will matter. What can you do about it? he asks, holding up his hands in resignation. And he’s right—there’s nothing I can do. I know that. So I write about it. Pages and pages of poetry in one continuous exhale. Free verse and sonnets, odes and elegies, villanelles and sestinas. When I’m done, I look over my work, pressing my hand against each poem like I’m leaving a palm print on a fogged-up window. And then I rip them out of my notebook, crumple them up, throw them in the garbage. I have finally mastered letting go. But then my friend takes them out of the trash, one by one, and smooths them out on the table like he’s trying to unwrinkle a wet T-shirt. Every single one of them. Even the bad ones. Even the limericks.
Sarah Mills is a freelance writer and editor. Her poetry has appeared in Glass Mountain and Philadelphia Stories. You can visit her at sarahmillswrites.com.