by Michael Leach
losing focus losing sight losing taste losing weight losing face losing grace losing a woman losing warmth losing heart losing perspective losing religion losing recognition losing competitions losing the attitude losing the pessimism losing other symptoms losing oneself losing inhibitions losing the shackles while donning a tuxedo and riding a bicycle into a swimming pool
This poem was inspired by The National’s song ‘Graceless’, which was written by Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner (2013). The final three lines describe a key part of the accompanying video clip created by Sophia Peer (2013; available to view through YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpz_gUyImhw). The title of this poem refers to seasonal affection in terms of both love for a woman and a mental health disorder. At heart, this piece is about loss—a concept highlighted through the poetic device of repetition. While most of the losses are hurtful and negative, some of the losses are heartening and positive. This is why lines such as ‘losing the pessimism’ rise up triumphantly across the page.
Michael J. Leach is a biostatistician, pharmacoepidemiologist and poet who works as a Senior Lecturer at the Monash University School of Rural Health. Michael undertakes research, teaches across medical and postgraduate degrees, and runs poetry workshops to encourage reflection, empathy, and wellbeing among medical students. His science- and health-related poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Meniscus, Rabbit, Plumwood Mountain, Medical Humanities, the British Journal of Medical Practitioners, the Medical Journal of Australia, and elsewhere. Michael’s debut poetry collection is Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). He lives in his hometown of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.