Elizabeth Hazen
The Bereaved

I’ve grown so still, so scared and scarce as those
lost years when I was ill. The doctors say

I’m healthy now. I eat three squares and then some.
I haven’t had a drink in months, in years,

in decades. Time, you know, is relative.
Even St. Augustine lived in anxious

distraction, fingering beads of his rosary
just as I twist knots in my own hair. It was doubt

that first defined existence. Time itself
makes no assertion. Loss hits hardest, without

warning: notes in the margins of a book,
the careless loop of his Ls. Defeated by

forgetting, I can’t help but ask myself
if he was the one spared. That is the darkest

moment; then the thought is gone like exhaled
smoke, proof that I’m still breathing.

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Her first book, Chaos Theories, was published in 2016. Her second book is forthcoming in 2020.