Those Who Have Vanished

Last month I had the honor of meeting the poet, Robert Collins at my university. He did a poetry reading from his newest book, “Naming The Dead.” This was the first poem he read. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for a good, approachable poem that will touch your heart.  

We read of them in the papers
in notices smaller than obituaries.
They’re the strangers who step out
one evening for a brief breath of air
or to the store to pick up some bread
and, turning a corner or leaving
the train, vanish and never return.

The police put out their APB’s,
but somehow they slip through
like aliens swimming under water.
Search lights sweep the suburbs
like the second hands of clocks,
and the river’s dragged for bodies,
but dragnets fill only with shadows.

I think of those I’ve loved
and thought I knew and lost.
How we got so far apart
we couldn’t find a way back
remains a mystery to me
as if we left nothing behind
we could ever have wanted.

And sometimes, like tonight, I think
that someone lost like myself
might be out there searching still,
dragging the long, slow waters
of moonless nights without sleep,
and I want to say, “I’m still here,
not far away, I haven’t forgotten,”
as we each fade farther and farther
into the lives we have chosen.