By Katie Predick 

The Physics of Loss

I thought of you today
in the grocery store. 
It is strawberry season and a bounty of bright red fruit 
was piled in the cooler.
And I am back in that afternoon we went berry picking,
a golden nostalgia relative to the present 
blue-cast flourescent lights.
You drag along an empty bucket as tall as your chubby knees,
but shove every berry straight into your mouth. 
I can see the red juice pooling in your dimples.
How could anyone resist
all that sweetness?

Physicists assume relativity as a given,
a theory, by which they mean a truth. That 
speed controls our experience of time.
That all of us are walking around 
with our internal clocks ticking 
at different rates.

And I think of my brother, your uncle –
the one who bought you that book about mathematics for infants, because 
it is never too early to start 
learning these things.
How he runs and runs, every day along the lake shore
and even marathons sometimes.
How many seconds more than me has he lived these past six years
by going so much faster?

But they also disagree,
the physicists, about whether time
is inherent to the universe or 
whether we construct it with our minds.
They say time may not exist 
at all, that everything could be present 
all at once; our brains just need time 
to deal with change.

So right here, in the produce section,
I try to overpower my reality with desire.
Stop my time right now, 
in this moment, 
and keep the sweet ripeness 
of these berries intact forever.
Or even 
bend it backward to the moment
they were plucked 
from the vine.


Go away from.
Allow to remain.

Ripples in water,
footprints in snow, 
lingering perfume,
halo of light 
after you stare at the sun.
which sprouts wooden 
childhood memories 
into full bloom.

That summer afternoon
scented of cut grass
you crawled beneath branches
fat with summer leaves and
discovered a private 
pocket of green.
In that sun striated hideout
you listened  to wind hushing
between leafy bushes,
to voices whispering 
between teeth.
“…time to put her to sleep…
too much pain too walk…
too tired to wag her tail…long life…
…tell the girls…”
It was not until later you understood 
this was a different kind 
of bedtime.

Leaves are named 
for their transience;
harbingers of spring
and an inevitable fall.

Do trees celebrate each spring green bud
and mourn every yellowed fallen leaf?
Do they become increasingly hardened 
every autumn?
Perhaps they can simply observe fleeting seasons 
with the wisdom 
of weathered creatures.

Your puppy’s wet black nose
turns every stone, 
roots through compacted dirt 
exposing fine white roots and the tracks of earthworms and beetles;
churns up all manner of rotting things wafting sweet decay.
Leave it.
Leave it.
Leave it.
Good dog.

Leave hope intact.
Leave your past and your troubles behind.
Leave the page unturned.
Leave the kettle on.
Leave well enough 
Leave out the obscenities. Leave out the milk.
Leave it to chance.
Leave the scene of the crime; leave a broken window.
Leave the sugar
out of the pie. 
Leave the leaves on the sidewalk.
Leave your mark.

The root of all this ambiguity
perhaps based in
the push-pull of wanting everything 
to stay the same 
and everything to change,
probably Latin.

Everything you ever lost
and everything that remains
in one tidy syllable.

About the Author:

katie predick

Katie Predick is a student in the Master Class at the Writers Studio, Tucson. She was born amid a Chicago snowstorm and began thawing a decade ago in the Sonoran desert. She lives in Tucson with her husband and three children.