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A Missing Piece

She imagined their life together
as a 4,000 piece cardboard jigsaw:
A dissected map in which they walked, sat, kissed.
His dark hued shapes gave substance to her shadow;
when he talked, she found the smooth edges
of her voice; when he joked she found the shades
of her smile and when he cooked,
she found irregular edges of appetite
She was surprised how much
she embraced puzzling and sometimes sat
late into the night to discover an interlocking
match, but there was always a piece missing.
She never felt able to cry out, triumphant,
in the small hours ‘I’ve done it.’
and as she continued night after night,
a third figure appeared amongst fragmented images,
often just a glimpse of fleeting dress or hair or flesh
then gradually more substantial: a hazel eye,
a knowing look, the sensuous curve of a lip.
One night she realised there was only
one scene of their puzzle in  which she still played
a part.
A forlorn figure who watched him walk away
and then she knew why difficult jigsaws have
no guide picture on the box. It is so their true subject
can remain a mystery until final shapes
are fitted

24 Mar 07

(define the words in this poem)
(60 more poems by this author)

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I truly admire the focus in this poem, the thematic consistency; there is also a ton of soft and slant rhyme throughout, quite good schtuff.  Lovely word-choice as well.

My only real criticism, and suggestion for revision, involves a few points where the poem tells too much, most of it in the final stanza.  

I'd recommend blue-penciling line 21, "until this presence began to take her place."  It feeds the reader a bit much, and the idea of being supplanted is called forth much better in the following three lines, "One night she realised there was only/one scene of their puzzle in  which she still played/a part."

Second, I might clip "A forlorn figure" from line 25; again, I think lines 22-24 (quoted above) imply "forlorn," and the phrase itself is a bit common.  I'd rather line 25 read simply "I watched him walk away."

Similarly, lines 29-31 tell a bit much: "Her missing piece/was the most important of all./It was the one that completed his heart."  Consider what a wonderfully strong ending the poem would have if those two-and-a-half lines were clipped:
    ...then she knew why difficult puzzles have
    no guide picture on the box: so their true subject
    can remain a mystery until final shapes
    are fitted into place.

I really enjoyed reading this poem, and hope you will take these suggestions into consideration.  
Thanks for posting,
 — mikkirat

I certainly will take your considerations into place mikkirat - this is the first draft and I was worried that it felt too prosaic. I thought I was still at the stage of knowing the narrative I wanted to tell, but I was worried that I'd told the reader too much as you point out so eloquently. i also wanted to get in the information about jigsaws - apparently the original jigsaws did not have a picture on the lid, so the mystery of the picture they would make was not revealed almost until the last piece, hence the line about the heart as she realises why the relationship is over. Very people have read this, but one didn't get the story at all, but you have, so I'm going with your judgement which I value highly and doing the edits.

 — opal

i hope better now. I'm certainly happier. thank you.
 — opal

L11-13 a lot of -ing

 — unknown

Thanks unknown - you are right - I will fix - invaluable help.
 — opal

This is one of your finest. What i like about it most is the way it seems to indicate that there are always missing pieces, parts or a part, and that others are ultimately unknowable. This poem has a dark heart for it shows that we are on our own coming in passing through and going out of life.
 — unknown

Thanks unknown - the jigsaw is a metaphor for putting all the pieces into place.
 — opal

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