In this poem of grief, Susan Cook explores loss and the way everything present can remind us of the loved one who is missing. “Behind everything there is always something more” reminds us that truth is layered, complex. Digging to China is both a metaphor for exploring emotional depths, and a way to imagine the recovery of what has been lost, a place where the speaker imagines meeting her lost loved one again. How often we live with the hope that a knowledge exists that we can’t grasp now, but someday will.
Susan Cook is a psychotherapist, practicing in a small Maine coast town, and a poet and essayist. Her manuscript, The Mental Health of Edna St. Vincent Millay was a semi-finalist in the 2017 and 2019 Two Sylvias Press Wilder Series Poetry Prize. She writes and produces a series The River Is Wide on PRX.org, available for review to public radio producers.
—Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor
Sonnet for Looking for China
I am in my garden when I fall on
my knees because I remember I can’t
find you now. Things that call or that beckon,
what walks toward me, has not been you. It can’t
be. So, because I remember behind
everything, there is always something more,
I start to dig. People have tried to find
China this way. You found it, I bet, sure
now, of where it is that loss goes, the fall
it brings. I will find it too and when we’re
there, together, we will celebrate small
truths. “Woman burrows to China.” We’ll cheer
human accomplishment, what cupped hands can
do, know what it is we didn’t know then.
Image at top: Nora Tryon, Seeds of Reverence (detail), acrylic on canvas and wood.