Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good Grief

Good Grief

Obsolescence is the leading product of our national infatuation with technology, and I now believe that obsolescence is not a darkness but a beauty.
-Jonathan Franzen, “Scavenging”

Scientists flip up a fern deep in the forest. Beneath
it is a yellow frog, the likes of which we have never seen.

Over the next month, thousands of dead yellow frogs
stiffen on the ground, dead just as we learn of them.

Species disappear every day. The same velocity
is invoked in the illustration of crashing anvils.

Whoosh, thud. The departures hang around
above us like smog. Grief is thick and sticky.

The jungle of loss is not all translucent blowfish
and tree frogs. People fall. We’re hoarse from

calling out Timber! to warn one another.
With every individual, an ability is extinguished.

One day, the last woman to never have a cell phone
will die. The final speaker of an exquisite dialect.

Information dies this way. No more phonograph needle
replacement experts or cassette thread weavers.

Recipes for cold soups will go, and some large truth
will be revealed as pseudoscience. The nature

of all interplanetary substance: things go away.
We wave, and soon forget what our hand is doing.


  1. I can feel the thick and sticky grief.

    But I still have my phonograph and just replaced it's needle. The old music sounds better played on the old phonograph.

  2. This is so timely as I'm reading more and more concern about how ebooks and ereaders will effect the paper, print glue we've all grown up with.

    It's a wonderful piece of writing, Hannah. You capture our modern losses beautifully.

  3. I was only telling my husband the other day that life will never be the way it was and this has been true of every epoch, it moves I know how former generations felt


  4. Great detail. "The final speaker of an exquisite dialect" - as will be the last person to use a cell phone:

    "Your fingers weave quick minarets
    Speak in secret alphabets...
    Learn to forget" (the Doors)

  5. If I had known it would be the last time I ever roller skated with metal roller skates clamped onto my shoes and tightened with a key, I would have paid more attention. Used a typewriter. Rotary phone. Had a "Rainbow Mountain" at Jo-Al's ice cream parlor.

  6. I love this poem. It is important work. And I love Anne's comment about the clamp-on roller skates and the winding key. I experienced that, and I'm so glad I did, and the clack of manual typewriter keys, and the feeling of dialing a rotary phone. I don't want to forget. It's sad when the world will forget.


The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.