A Simple Thing

it's a simple thing
to put away
half a white onion, a leftover ripe tomato,
and a half-gone jar of grated parmesan.

it's an easy motion
to pull the sleeves of my favorite long cardigan over my hands
as i hug myself
and stand staring out of the little window
above my kitchen sink.

the old refrigerator kicks on behind me,
and i wonder whether to read,
or go for a walk,
or if i should simply stand here quietly
while the dishes dry.

it's a simple thing
to miss someone.
is there a place for putting that away?
some easy compartment of the heart
that i can't find or imagine?

it's a simple thing,
but not easy,
to feel so uncertain and empty.
is something wrong with me, to feel this way?
and i wonder
does it ever stop?

for the Get Listed challenge at Real Toads. I used just one word: "simple".



  1. It's not a simple thing to miss someone... where do you put that... some of that never goes away. You just need to stand still and find the way to peace.

  2. genuine and excellently done.
    The final lines
    could be my epitaph

    Sending YOU Aloha
    from Honolulu,
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° >

  3. I love the way this line sounds: "and a half-gone jar of grated parmesan" You have such a good ear.

    "it's an easy motion" This is a great line all by itself, but it just layers so nicely with the line that follows---putting on warmth to fight the coldness of being alone.

    Don't think I don't notice your tiny lowercase Is. The speaker in this poem is feeling very small, insignificant, and incomplete.

    Stanza 3 is fantastic. It perfectly summarizes your poem: "What on earth do I do with my time since nothing matters more than being with you (which obviously cannot happen)? How does everything around me go on, even the appliances, when I can't seem to function?" You mentioning the refrigerator being old makes me think that in these moments, the speaker feels very old and worn out. I'm now picturing her in a creaky house full of stories---some certainly happy, but others so sad.

    "some easy compartment of the heart" This is another great-sounding line.

    No capital letters to be found. Such smallness here. Even the small window, which now makes me think of time and the way it so quickly closes upon us. But I was originally thinking of a house as a prison cell with a tiny window, or a hospital room. Some limited vessel holding the speaker captive as she gazes out the little window hoping for a breeze or a bird flitting by ... just something that will allow her a glimpse of the motion of life. Inside her walls, all is still. Painfully, quietly, unbearably still.

    I think it very wise for a writer to select only one word from a list; what restraint and control you have exercised. And not only have you used the word "simple," but you've written simply about simplicity---an illusion of course, because all we see here is a hidden world of complexity bouncing around in your brain just beyond our limited vision.

  4. So poignant. Is that your cute little sink? I have lights over my bay window. I love little lights after dark. It is a simple, but very painful thing, to miss someone. No where to put it for relief, unfortunately but, thankfully it passes as we keep marching relentlessly on.

  5. Here is the Shay that made me love her.

  6. "The old refrigerator kicks on behind me."

    That gave me an auditory image that was immediate, crystal-clear and one that took me back a few years when I had a crappy old refrigerator. ;)

  7. The air of normalcy here just makes the pain more bittersweet, a 'simple' function of the narrator's life, like breathing, or doing the dishes, yet no matter how many times it comes up, nothing tidies it away...I have worn out the word beautiful here at this blog, but I'm polishing it off and throwing it out there one more time.

    And I want to know where MZ gets those black stockings. I love those.

  8. it does seem odd that sometimes the easiest things feel so hard. this is a beautiful and touching piece.

  9. Your description of what is do-able begins to ache at ripping out sleeves while hugging the self, from there it is an easy step to what cannot be done. This narrator does everything right. We rub these ocean shards of broken glass until rounded, but they are never gone. Simple steps to putting away just do not apply to the heart and spirit.

  10. "Ripping out sleeves", Susan? I don't see any ripping in my poem.

  11. Such a beautiful poem! Pulled at my heart. I like how you chose one word to focus on.

  12. no, there is no place to put it .. but if you wear it gracefully is will soon become a less of an ache more a part of you

  13. You imagery is beautiful, yet simple. I enjoy the lines

    "to pull the sleeves of my favorite long cardigan over my hands
    as i hug myself"

    They are beautiful yet simply filled of quiet life.

  14. Love the vulnerability and questioning within the common.

  15. that's just wonderful, I could feel myself in that kitchen with my breaking heart

  16. "it's a simple thing,
    but not easy"

    that really says it all, doesn't it?

    beautifully written, SP!

    LOVE this one.

    {well, you know i love them all but i don't always tell you.}

  17. I love the honesty / openness /vulnerability and the very real human feelings of missing someone that you express in this poem. I think many of us can empathize....

  18. The first stanza sets this up so beautifully. I can see the whole scene clearly.

  19. Sad but beautiful. There is nothing wrong, it is just life and though it is simple, it is not easy and it doesn't change.

  20. Is is possible to capture the hole in someone's heart? You have here. I really felt this.

  21. 'Simple' has never seemed so complex.

  22. Beautiful! A detailed image too, with the refrigerator and the kitchen sick adding valuable detail. Loved it.

  23. Such vulnerability shown..Nothing simple about the pain...beautiful poem.

  24. I read somewhere that writing about small moments makes the best poetry. Of course, sorrow is a huge topic, but you broke it down to a slice of time. I could feel this as I read it. This is one of those poems I went back to read aloud. Just love it!

  25. I think I picked up on this vibe before I read your poem! ♥

  26. oh shay, i love this one for its simplicity. just unadulterated missing, nothing more, nothing less. stillness, simple. love it.

  27. Often the simple things are the most difficult. I love how you set this up with the mundane tasks. Missing someone is mundane but so complex and freaking hard.

  28. The particulars in this are heart breaking, the missing paints the picture of love, simply love when it's gone.

  29. I loved this poem. You captured "simple" so beautifully in these words.

    I would add to the thought behind this that it's the simple things that help recover.

    As always, you amaze me with your ability to write in so many different ways and yet, capture a feeling in your words. It's really a gift, Shay.

  30. I've felt this, but you put it into words. Sigh. Love. Yes.

  31. I wish I'd had the wit to use just one. You have produced a simply lovely poem.

  32. Well, you just put me to shame! You made aREAL poem of these words. Wonderful work, as always!


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