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‘On Loss’ by Joanne Leow1 min read

20 January, 2017 0 comment

Animated Illustration by Lydia Fu

Animated Illustration by Lydia Fu

When they tell me that my mother can no longer write
I like to think of it as a loss of fine motor control
I don’t like to remember the cards she once
sent me, her sharp angular writing,
the messages getting imperceptibly terser
over the years, what may have been the last card or note
Misplaced in a shoebox or folder,
Or what her handwriting might look like now

They say this atrophy could be reversed
if there was inspiration or inclination.
But I don’t believe that, I prefer not
to think about my mother’s
failing hands, fingers, or will at all
as if dwelling on them too much would be
a premonition of sorts

I prefer to think of the
box that one ticked for a toddler’s developmental
goals, a skill improved by tiny pieces of plastic
that fit into each other, by tying endless bits of
string into knots and then unknotting them again.
I like to think of the carefully cut and glued stars on
preschool projects, of folding minuscule cranes from
washi paper.

But that is simply a ruse:
while we briefly rise above
our bodies and time, to live
is to lose
everything.


Joanne Leow is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have been published in Catapult Magazine, Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore, Little Things: An Anthology of Poetry (Ethos Books), and the now defunct Junoesq. She grew up in Singapore.

Illustration by Lydia Fu

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