Lorelei Bacht

Dancing Egret    Chinese ink on rice paper   copyright Hedy Habra

on losing loss

i am yet to document
the end

of mourning. the dawn after.
the breeze. the slightly

feverish feeling that has began
to burn trust back

through thinning clouds.
at first,

i tried to ignore it, the bright
belief returned.

attempted to hold on.
i felt robbed of the stone

in my left shoe. robbed of
black spells. i felt

frightened. returning
to reason.

was grief fantastical? did i
overdo it? foolish

enough to grieve the end
of grief. i will not walk

that bridge anymore. nothing
there for me.

only beauty. ahead, only.


anything to change the course
of this collision, to fly birds

backwards to nests, muddle
back into me and mine. anything to

reverse motion, counter the bloom
of sickness on the lip, to drain

the urge for action before it
thinks itself into a riverside chat.

anything to tether, remain and fruit
at last: we were promised jetpacks.

anything mean, man-holed and black
magic. any small delusion. any

manner of belonging. misnaming
whose as yours and mine. not

an honest question will pass
this rack of teeth, hard clenched.

we sit the body on the chair, wrap it
in red paper mache, the ghost

of it mousetrapped, dolled up into
panics of petticoats, thick not

with living but water, its wedding
gown a great white sinking ship:

this evening is not a white flag.
neither route nor alternative – we grieve

the absence of a map. the distance
to the sun. the word: bereft.

so will your delight increase.1The title is taken from ‘The Greatest Gift’, a song by Sufjan Stevens.

day after the monster: quieter than

the day before – you sitting on
corrugated bedsheets, thick prismatic
light-waves, having found how

to lose.

come now. come shadows and
suitcases full of rain. come now

empty, devoid. come now

cracked egg and dawn. first lights
lifting you unbroken.

did we use to argue? could we
walk this landscape of silent

rice, banana tree, egret? we are

whispered into revelation, green
horizon – we won’t be looking down
the coal well anymore.

its wet sorrow has abandoned.

someone will come to change the sheets
through which i traced every black

scale, the beast outlined, releasing
the body.

body now walking its pressed light
to the breakfast table.

1. The title is taken from ‘The Greatest Gift’, a song by Sufjan Stevens.

Lorelei Bacht is a person and poet living, working and missing birches somewhere in Asia. Their recent work has appeared in The Selkie, Barrelhouse, After the Pause, Harpy Hybrid Review, Sinking City and elsewhere. They can be found on Twitter: @bachtlorelei and on Instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer

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Spring 2022