Odes to the Lost and Found

Odes to the Lost and Found

Write an ode to something that’s been lost, or recovered…

A Poem Prompt from Sue D. Burton

Write an ode to something that’s been lost. It could be silly, a lost sock, or it could be very serious. What comes up for me are the hundreds of wooden synagogues in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, burned to the ground in the 1930s by German occupiers. Or the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed by the Taliban. Or the Notre Dame Cathedral that may never recover from its devastating fire. It’s interesting that these are all religious structures. Why does that come to me now, as our secular safeguards are being dismantled?

The flip prompt could be to write an ode to something that’s been recovered. I just read that there’s a 3-D image of the Buddhas projected on their former site: “The destroyed Buddha statues rise again.” Somehow that makes me even sadder. But a story that does inspire me is from Burlington, Vermont, where I live. A “folk art” mural painted around 1910 by a Lithuanian artist for one of the wooden synagogues in town and later encased behind a false wall after the synagogue merged with another, was recently brought to light and restored. The mural itself is amazing—velvety blue curtains and lions and scrolls. The volunteers who worked over the years to preserve it deserve an ode!

Sue D. Burton’s BOX, selected by Diane Seuss for the Two Sylvias Press Poetry Prize, was awarded Silver in the Foreword INDIES Poetry Book of the Year (2018), and was a finalist for the 2019 Vermont Book Award. She is also the author of Little Steel (Fomite Press), and was awarded Fourth Genre’s Steinberg Prize. She apprenticeship-trained as a physician assistant at the Vermont Women’s Health Center and is an alum of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and Vermont College’s MFA.

Her poem “& in Swanton, Vermont, today the swans in the center of the green are nipping each other or perhaps they are kissing” may be found in WTP Vol. VIII #1

Her interview with Sara London, WTP Poetry Editor, can be found here.

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