Write an ode about something you lost,
I once told a class of 4th graders.
When Students began to cry
I realized that they weren’t writing about
blue marbles, books, and favorite socks,
like Pablo’s “two socks as soft as rabbits.”
They weren’t writing about toys or dolls,
They were asking why Grandma had to die.
They were remembering pets who had to be buried.
We circled ’round and hugged
and soothed, and I said, I’m sorry,
and dried their tears,
little children, who are not babies,
but not grown up, yet.
I lost my pounamu from Aotearoa,
a greenstone necklace given to me by my sister
when our father died. I searched for eleven months.
It ate away at my memories, a careless misplace,
a silent mourning, a treasured essence, a lost presence.
I imagined it silky on my cheek, its comfort on my chest,
now lonely and cold in a forgotten place.
Its smooth surface like the open ocean near Nine Pin Rock,
the pinnacle near the mouth of the Bay, we sailed
the day we sprinkled his ashes, silt spreading out below the surface
like a squall of clouds, sinking deep into a shadowy green-stoned sea.
We circled round and hugged, wind blowing ashes on skin, on hair.
We carried him away with us, what didn’t go to Davy Jones’ locker.
That’s where sailors are buried, he told me when I was four.
In a hidden suitcase pocket,
with a flashlight, hand-sanitizer,
and Hawaiian ivory fishing hooks,
I found my pounamu,
soft, deep-sea green stone,
still silky on cheek, now worn ’round my neck,
a soothing hug from another place
I once called home.