Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

– Kay Ryan

Submitted by:

Nitish, who says “Kay Ryan was the poet laureate of the US until last year. I’ve read a few odd poems of hers here and there (some are here), but the one that stood out to me was this one.


This poem is as lovely as it is unexpected in the things it mentions. Most people, when they speak of loss, speak of a reduction, a taking away; this poem speaks of a distressing fullness of inanimate objects instead. That there is no groove, no wearing away, no physical residue to show that someone was once there, and is no longer.
You can follow this link to an inteview with the poet by the Paris Review.

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