The Baltimore Sun

Loss can defeat us or serve as the impetus for positive change. Here, Sue Ellen Thompson of Connecticut shows us how to mourn inevitable changes, tuck the memories away, then go on to see the possibility of a new and promising chapter in one's life.

- Ted Kooser

"No Children, No Pets"

I bring the cat's body home from the vet's

in a running-shoe box held shut

with elastic bands. Then I clean

the corners where she has eaten and

slept, scrubbing the hard bits of food

from the baseboard, dumping the litter

and blasting the pan with a hose. The plastic

dishes I hide in the basement, the pee-

soaked towel I put in the trash. I put

the catnip mouse in the box and I put

the box away, too, in a deep

dirt drawer in the earth.

When the death-energy leaves me,

I go to the room where my daughter slept

in nursery school, grammar school, high school,

I lie on her milky bedspread and think

of the day I left her at college, how nothing

could keep me from gouging the melted candle-wax

out from between her floorboards,

or taking a razor blade to the decal

that said to the firemen, "Break

this window first."

I close my eyes now

and enter a place that's clearly

expecting me, swaddled in loss

and then losing that, too, as I move

from room to bone-white room

in the house of the rest of my life.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06. Copyright 2006 by Sue Ellen Thompson. Reprinted from ?Nimrod International Journal: The Healing Arts,? Spring-Summer, 2006, by permission of the author.

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