Anthony Lawrence, ‘The Welfare of My Enemy’ (sample)
Of all the words for Missing, there’s
only one that rates a mention.
Defying the best and worst intentions
it lives beyond the synonym, where
etymology gets you hooked, and soon
you’re into other things, obsessed
by tense and loose connections.
It’s just that words are dressed
in what their bloodlines occupy
and language can corrupt the very
thing it spawns, and this is why
trapped inside the sophistry
surrounding fact and mystery
it flirts with near-redundancy
yet the flame of what it means
is alive with expectation, common usage
memorial and dreams.
It keeps apace with every age.
Using it in place of Grief or Loss
undermines the hopelessness
those word themselves make manifest
when putting absence to the test.
The word will stubbornly persist
despite familiar turns of phrase
that emphasise the complex ways
Missing can be seen to list
What works to trance the inner ear
works outside to make things clear
though clarity’s a burden when
no sign of life or death gives weight
to all the waiting. A conundrum.