The Lost Thing
—a poem by Stephen Dunn

The Lost Thing 

The truth is
it never belonged to anybody.
It's not a music box or a locket;
it doesn't bear our initials.
It has none of the tragic glamour
of a lost child, won't be found
on any front page. It's like
the river that confuses
search dogs, like the promise
on the far side of the ellipsis.
Look for it in the margins,
is the conventional wisdom.
Look for it as late afternoon light
drips below the horizon.
But it's not to be seen.
Nor does it have a heart
or give off any signal.
It's as if . . . is how some of us
keep trying to reach it.
Once, long ago, I felt sure
I was in its vicinity.

Stephen Dunn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Different Hours. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Dunn lives in Frostburg, Maryland and teaches at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey.

* "The Lost Thing" is from Stephen Dunn's book Everything Else In The World. It was first published by The Gettysburg Review and has been republished here with the author's permission.