The Whole of Harmonium

 

by John Gallaher

 

 

That’s what Stevens wanted to call his collected poems.  

 

He lost that battle.  And so what chance do any of us 

 

have?  We’re all losing things constantly as a kind of 

 

completeness.  Eliot, eight, lost a pencil topper, a Martian 

 

with google eyes, at the Omaha Botanical Gardens.  

 

That was a bad afternoon, the “lost forever” lesson.  It’s 

 

Lesson One.  And today, at the Binghamton airport, an 

 

airport I’ve decided does no one any real good, I lost 

 

$1.75 in a snack machine trying to get a peppermint 

 

patty.  It fell and then bounced back onto the bottom 

 

merchandise shelf.  I meditated upon this a bit, hopefully 

 

$1.75 worth, trying to make it a worthwhile learning 

 

experience, as I have no more change, and there’s 

 

nowhere around I can see to get any.  How my small losing 

 

will be this boon for someone who will get two treats 

 

in a bit, that I might, that I could perhaps wait around 

 

and watch happen.  Maybe “$1.75 worth” would make 

 

a good mantra.  It kind of trips off the tongue.  I’m 

 

participating in “forward thinking” while the two people 

 

in the seats in front of me are getting to know each other.  

 

He’s telling her he’s published several books with major 

 

vendors on conflict resolution in the workplace.  It’s 

 

making me want to test him out.  He nods a lot and holds 

 

his hands together like he’s praying while he talks.  I’m 

 

losing something every second, listening to him.  Like 

 

how every few years someone proclaims it to be the “End 

 

of Innocence,” which then must mean innocence 

 

somehow comes back to us, to be lost over and over, 

 

or that perhaps it’s innocence in layers, all the way down 

 

to never arriving, while bankers are still mysteriously dying 

 

and no one’s saying much about it.  Or else no more than 

 

a statistical average of bankers is dying mysteriously and 

 

slow news days are making too much of it.  They say, 

 

likewise, that the Maryville, Missouri area has the statistical 

 

average of cancers and tumors and people dying per 

 

capita, but people are saying something here is killing us.