The Difference Between Lack and Absence by Annie Diamond

Both mean not having, but one means missing too.
Absence can be welcome, but lack implies desire—
the absence of some noise, a lack of you

might be a good example. And it’s true
that lack makes judgment, means that we require
the thing that’s gone (a constant aching, too)

while absence just reports; we can make do
with smaller things; it doesn’t sound so dire.
Who needs the noise? (But I need you.)

Absence lets us start anew,
while lacking keeps us laced to its dark pyre.
Both are not having, but one is missing too,

and wanting nothing more than to undo
whatever sins caused lacking to transpire.
The noise is done, and so, I guess, are you

with me. In verse I struggle to subdue
my restless heart. (The lacking makes me tired.)
Both mean not having; one means missing too—
the absence of some noise, a lack of you.

Annie Diamond is a student at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college affiliated with Columbia University. She has also studied abroad at Mansfield College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University in England. She recently completed her sophomore year at Barnard College, where she studies English and creative writing. Her work has been published in Apt, Avatar Review, Clockwise Cat, The Columbia Review and The Lyric. She was awarded first prize in The Lyric‘s College Poetry Contest for her villanelle “The Difference Between Lack and Absence.” The same poem later won the Lyric Memorial Prize and was named the best poem to appear in The Lyric for the year 2013. Her favorite writing spot is the Hungarian Pastry Shop on New York City’s 111th Street, and her number one life ambition is to appear on Jeopardy.

“It was my honor and pleasure to judge The Lyric‘s yearly and quarterly awards. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my favorite poem for the year 2013 was written by a college student, Annie Diamond. I believe she has a very bright future.”—Michael R. Burch

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