pleasure/pain, gain/loss, praise/blame, fame/disrepute

What do they say about you
when you’re not in the room?

What will they say when they put your body in the ground?
What will they think, but never say aloud
even when you’re gone?

What are the first ten adjectives that come to mind?

Whisper an anecdote that is the story of how you moved through the world.
In whose ear did you whisper?

Who reaches for a memory of you, to inspire them
to be brave enough
to get through another night?
And who has etched your words in their heart
on a caution sign?

How wide is your ambition?
How precise?
What do you feed it? And how –
with silver spoons or sticky fingers?
Who taught you to prepare the meal? Where and when and
how well did you learn?

Who will invite you to a dinner party that you will never attend?

How loud must the applause be for you to be satisfied?
How long must it echo to make it worth what it cost you?
A year? A decade? A century?

How far can you fall? And, be honest now:
how will you possibly
survive?

What have you lost?

Did you notice the loss right away –
or did an awareness surface slowly?

Maybe the true shape of the loss is just now
coming into focus.

Where does this shape reside in your body?
Are the edges of the hollowed space
Soft?
Damp? Slick? Ragged?

What kind of song fills the space – who hears it?

What would happen
if you wore the scent of this loss on your skin?

Has someone else gained from your loss?

When you speak of your loss
which herbs and spices fill your mouth?
Who would you feed them to
and how?

What has this loss made room for?