When Trying to Find Yourself by Claire Haindfield

When you find that you’ve gone missing,
Grab your favorite sweater of loose threads and
Long-gone snaps.
Hug your mother.
Slip on your withering rain boots
In the hue you like most
And step out into the drizzle.

When trying to find yourself,
Search in every crack in the wall
And beneath every loose board struck of
Rusted nails for pieces of you.
Play eye-spy with your
Best qualities.
Observe footprints and fingerprints with care–
Pick around for every loose hair–
This is a crime scene now.
Search around every tree in the thicket and
Behind each sack of flour in the grocery store.
When you’ve finished one aisle, check more.
Find the tallest telephone pole in town and
Post a “Missing” flier.
Include a photo of
Yourself smiling big
So others will know who to look for
If you are seen.

Sort through dusted dictionaries
Forget the weight the books once held,
Seeming childish now that you’ve grown.
Filter through the thesaurus
For what you are and what you are not.
Cry when the pages do not know your name.

Question the cashier at the curbside coffee stand
Who cannot remember meeting such a man.
Show the trimmer at the pet store your flier when he
Insists he has not seen the description you describe.
Ask your neighbor, your co-workers,
Your sister,
Where they suggest you look to find
Who you have been missing.
Get angry when they shake their heads.

Retreat, hideaway, be alone.
Pout and hiss and yell at the corners of
Walls where you stub your toes on your worst days.
Talk bad about yourself.
Stop showering, eat poorly.
Let your hair grow long though
You’ve always liked it short.
Become someone you can no longer recognize,
When the missing and the found begin to blur.

When trying to find yourself,
give yourself a chance
In the moping and the sorrow.
Plant a seed and let it sprout
In the warmth of your barren chest
Where you may grow into the soul you yearn.
Do not spend your lifetime
Sifting the ruins of earth
For a man who never went missing.


Claire Haindfield is a junior at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, WA where she is involved with the Slam Poetry Club. Claire has work published in Disclaimer Magazine and will be featured at the Bellevue Arts Museum in early 2021. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking, playing soccer, and traveling.