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The Lost

Today’s poem is The Lost by Richard Foerster. He’s the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Boy on a Doorstep: New and Selected Poems, which spans 40 years of his work. Richard has worked as a lexicographer, educational writer, typesetter, teacher, and editor of the literary magazines Chelsea and Chautauqua Literary Journal. Since 1986, he has lived on the coast in southern Maine.
He writes, “The Lost began with one of those sudden pangs of childhood memory I sometimes have and its attendant bewilderment of ‘Why am I remembering this now, decades later?’ and ‘Why do such trivial things as a lost marble or lost stuffed bear carry such weight long after childhood is over?’ The poem, I suppose, is an attempt to answer those questions, which became possible only after I had read an article about dark matter and black holes and connections began to click in my mind.”

The Lost
by Richard Foerster

At some point you begin to wonder where
things lost in childhood have gone,

how they become the dark matter
inexplicably accounting for more

than the shimmering weight of galaxies,
—how an aggie, for example, whose light

long ago slipped beyond reach, as if
through a black hole in a pocket,

can gather again its critical mass
in the mind till it flashes out from that abyss,

a beacon deep within a space
you never manage to fathom, —or how

a tattered bear that one thought he’d clutch
tighter than any flesh, though even then

milk-sour and button-blind, still seems to be
racing off, perfect on its solitary journey,

deeper through an endless tunnel, yet gesturing
faintly back to the child it left sundered

on a subway platform. Time’s relative
when you calculate velocities of the lost, moving

through their vast distances, always away from
yet always toward no destination.

Poem copyright © 2002 Richard Foerster. Reprinted from Double Going, BOA Editions, Ltd, 2002, by permission of Richard Foerster.