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Sheree La Puma

What You Gain When You Lose

Loss itself is a time-honored gateway; it encourages a shift from anxiety and attachment to the pursuit of a new spiritual awareness.

—David Rome, “The Green Buddha”

Where do all the socks go? I have three singles in the drawer: green, pink, blue, nothing congruous, each needs another to make a pair. In absence of that, I hoard tickets, scratchers, worthless, stashed in a box as a reminder - prosperity never comes, easy. Not for me at least. On a shelf in the garage, a newspaper clipping “Bob the Monster,” ex-boyfriend. In between the noise & fame he shoots heroin, screams obscenities at Jesus. I remember those days. When I lost my virginity, I dabbed at the blood between my legs with a tissue, put it in a scrapbook. Wanting some record of my womanhood, loud like a punctuation mark. I wouldn’t be a real woman until years later when the blood flowed thicker than water. Before that a girl: her flesh sacred, reading poetry under the covers until sunrise; yearning to grow - roots, branches.

Bob says I flit about like an angel, calm as a mosque during prayer. After the abortion, he comes to the clinic with an arm full of roses. In my dreams, no longer a grave digger, I have a whole body. Someone loves here. I sing to my womb, savoring the feeling of two. Bob splits the next month, an unconscious coupling, more enamored with drugs than family. I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern ever since summer, had a series of encounters with homeless men/women. There are links on my desktop to news reports about a plane crash - my ex-husband’s - in August. He died. I feel guilty. He being the better half according to survivors. I am the mismatched one. Three baby books, handwritten records of a lives born and raised sit up top my dresser. There are no children here. Estrangement being the in thing, so I look at photographs; the camera is a kind of clock. I imagine heaven as a camp where we all sit around the fire and sing kumbaya. No apologies necessary. A place where all the mismatched socks are kept in a drawer and I am a fragrance on everyone’s skin, a love-song playing on repeat.


Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose personal essays, fiction and poetry appeared in such publications as Burningword Literary Journal, I-70 Review, Crack The Spine, Mad Swirl, The Inflectionist Review, The London Reader, Gravel, Foliate Oak, and Ginosko Literary Review, among others. She received an MFA in Writing from California Institute of the Arts and taught poetry to former gang members. Born in Los Angeles, she now resides in Valencia, CA with her rescues, Bello cat and Jack, the dog.

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