When they drained the canals of Amsterdam it made me think about

Amelie Meltzer

-How loss is never permanent
-How losing things can preserve them
(The floor of the canal became a communal safe: a thousand wedding rings, passports, compacts,
fancy pens, all waiting in one place)
-A story I heard about a boy who disappeared by a lake, and how after days of searching they
were so desperate to find him they threw in dynamite, hoping it would expel his body
(It did not work. He was never found)
-How loss is sometimes permanent
-How loss can be worse than destruction
-How it feels when you choose to stop looking
-How all those people who lost things in the canals went on crossing the bridges and riding the
river boats and walking along the banks, separated by just a few meters, a few hundred years
-How we lose things for such silly reasons
-How whenever you annoyed me, I used to pantomime taking off my ring and throwing it into an
imaginary body of water, and how it always made you laugh
-How it feels when a shared joke stops being funny
-A girl in my second grade class who, on a field trip to the beach, told me there were an
estimated 10,000 human skeletons in the Pacific ocean
(I accepted this as fact until much later, when I realized there are probably way more than that)
-How after they refilled the canals, someone was the first person to drop something precious in,
thus beginning the new collection
-How it feels when you get something back, but it’s changed
-How to feel some things again, I’d swallow all the water in the sea


Author’s Commentary: This website is endlessly distracting and fascinating to me, and inspired the poem. https://belowthesurface.amsterdam/en 


Amelie Meltzer is a San Francisco native studying in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a medical student and activist, working to address racial bias in healthcare and promote the needs of queer and gender nonconforming patients. She writes poetry and nonfiction.