Absence

This is the fourth assignment for the MOOC, “Whitman’s Civil War: Writing and Imaging Loss, Death, and Disaster“, through the University of Iowa.

This assignment is as follows:

Professor Folsom noted in our video discussion that Whitman encountered many soldiers who, even in the silence of a peaceful night, still heard the noises of Civil War Battlefields, sounds and sensations that never left them. These reverberations crept into the silence of each night, making those spaces unbearably loud. What are the unseen remnants of our modern conflicts and traumas? What losses or absences do you or do we continue to sense from things that are no longer present? In words or images, compose a piece that explores the “phantom limbs” of a trauma or traumas.

—————-

13 Ways of Looking at Absence

I

The child:

fatherless

before birth

II

the teenager:

role models

missing in action

III

the alcoholic:

memories

blanked by oblivion

IV

the drug-taker:

unhinged

unparented

V

the stray dog:

cowered

unleashed

VI

the wandered mind:

unwilling

to be present

VII

the lost keys:

determined

to be overlooked

VIII

the dementia ward:

short-term memories

extinguished

IX

the war veteran:

hope replaced

by horror

X

the aboriginal:

amputated from land

spirit adrift

XI

the abusive priest:

oaths broken

scruples dispensed

XII

the bully’s victim:

confidence lost

trust breached

XIII

the disgraced sportsman:

dreams shattered

image broken

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2016