Inspirational Quote 1.22.15: the Art of Longing


This poem arose from a conjunction of events—the recent death of my mother-in-law, the last surviving parent on either side of our family, and my driving for hours through a deep Canadian winter to offer a grief workshop in Brockville.  The periodic bursts of long “O” sounds echoed for me the howling wind, and the endlessly receding landscape evoked the landscape of memory and our yearning for return. The sensory pull between the strong draw of the past and my forward momentum found expression in the evolving imagery, and hinted at an essential tension in grieving.

–Robert A. Neimeyer


The Art of Longing

Those of us who have driven

the long cold road alone

have watched the thin line

of trees, frosted white,

slipping behind


like memories.

We know the pull

of something unseen

beyond the reach of dry eyes,

fixed, blinking


at the distant mist.

We ride the road

with our lonely ghosts,

unwavering in their devotion

like penitents at the altar


of our grief.

This is how we perfect

the art of longing,

learn to nurse the hurt,

refuse the fullness


of this world.

For now, we keep driving,

lean into the dimming light,

lean further toward

winter’s receding horizon,


and away from arrival.


Reprinted with permission from Robert A. Neimeyer, The Art of Longing : Selected Poems. Charleston, SC: BookSurge/CreateSpace. Photo by L.R. Lynn

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