I will come. I will come. I will.

I will greet the sun again,
greet the stream that once flowed in me,
the clouds that were my unfurling thoughts,
the aching growth of the grove's poplars
who passed with me through seasons of draught.
I will greet the flock of crows
who gifted me the groves' night perfume
and my mother who lived in the mirror
and was my old age's reflection.
Once more I will greet the earth
who, in her lust to re-create me, swells
her flaming belly with green seeds.

I will come. I will come. I will.
My hair trailing deep-soil scents.
My eyes intimating the dark's density.
I will come with a bouquet picked
from shrubs on the other side of the wall.
I will come, I will come. I will.
The doorway will glow with love
and I will once again greet those in love, greet
the girl still standing in the threshold's blaze.

[Forugh Farrokhzad {1935-1967}, 'I Will Greet the Sun Again', from Sin, trans. by Sholeh Wolpé]


I could even contain the stars within me

That is my window beckoning.
Waking now in such gentle light,
I supposed I might be floating.
Toward what is my life reaching,
and where begins the night?

I might suppose that all
of it still surrounded me,
clear as the depths of a crystal,
unspeaking and shadowy.

I feel I could even contain
the stars within me, so mighty
does my heart seem, once again
it has willingly set him free

whom perhaps I began to love,
perhaps began to embrace.
Strangely, a thing never dreamed of,
my fate stares into my face.

Why am I laid out below
such endless repetition,
fragrant as a sweet meadow,
yet wind-shifted hither and yon,

calling out, yet ever in fear
that someone might hear my call,
destined to find in another
lover yet another downfall.

[Rainer Maria Rilke {1875-1926}, 'The Woman in Love', from Rilke: New Poems {trans. from the German by Joseph Cadora]


the gaze in which nothing is guarded, nothing withheld

To love is to suffer--did I
know this when first
I asked you for your love?
I did not. And yet until
I knew, I could not know what
I asked, or gave. I gave
a suffering that I took: yours
and mine, mine when yours;
and yours I have feared most.

What can bring us past
this knowledge, so that you
will never wish our life
undone? For if ever you
wish it so, then I must wish
so too, and lovers yet unborn,
whom we are reaching toward
with love, will turn to this
page, and find it blank.

I have feared to be unknown
and to offend--I must speak,
then, against the dread
of speech. What if, hearing,
you have no reply, and mind’s
despair annul the body’s hope?
Life in time may justify
any conclusion, whenever
our will is to conclude.

Look at me now. Now,
after all the years, look at me
who have no beauty apart
from what we two have made
and been. Look at me
with the look that anger
and pain have taught you,
the gaze in which nothing
is guarded, nothing withheld.

You look at me, you give
a light, which I bear and return,
and we are held, and all
our time is held, in this
touching look--this touch
that, pressed against the touch
returning in the dark,
is almost sight. We burn
and see by our own light.

Eyes looking into eyes looking
into eyes, touches that see
in the dark, remember Paradise,
our true home. God’s image
recalls us to Itself. We move
with motion not our own,
light upon light, day and
night, sway as two trees
in the same wind sway.

Let us come to no conclusion,
but let our bodies burn
in time’s timelessness. Heaven
and earth give us to this night
in which we tell each other of
a Kingdom yet to come, saying
its secret, its silent names.
We become fleshed words, one
another’s uttered joy.

Joined in our mortal time,
we come to the resurrection
of words; they rise up
in our mouths, set free
of taints, errors, and bad luck.
In their new clarities
the leaf brightens, the air
clears, the syllables of water are
clear in the dark air as stars.

We come, unsighted, in the dark,
to the great feast of lovers
where nothing is withheld.
That we are there we know
by touch, by inner sight.
They all are here, who by
their giving take, by taking
give, who by their living
love, and by loving live.

[Wendell Berry {1934- }, 'Duality', from Entries]


don't confuse God with silence

Who among you thinks that I am afraid of silence
because I can't find your version of God with silence?

I hear God in a pinball machine's sound and fury.
You say you can't? Are your ears clogged with silence?

I hear angel wings in a bowling ball's low rumble.
You can't? Have you been struck odd with silence?

God is a siren screaming toward a house on fire.
Lives will be saved by water cannons, not with silence.

God is the raucous laughter during and after sex.
Make noise! Joyful noise! Don't fallow sod with silence.

Have you ever heard great powwow drummers singing to God?
Pay them! Pay them! Gas can't be bought with silence.

When I start my car I hear a dinosaur's grief song.
To live, we kill. Don't be so distraught with silence.

God is a knife that slices root and neck for food.
Make joyful noise! Don't dishonor blood with silence.

I hear God when my son plays his alto saxophone.
Am I strange? Or have you been struck odd with silence?

I hear God whenever I hear my neighbors make love.
You can't? Maybe your ears are clogged with silence.

Have you ever heard one thousand cranes lifting into flight?
It sounds like a hymn. Don't confuse God with silence.

Faith should be quarrel and quandary.
Why not make noise? Why haven't you fought with silence?

[Sherman Alexie {1966- }, 'Loud Ghazal', from What I've Stolen, What I've Earned]


even as you are reading you feel it

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think--
no, you will realize--
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your heart
had been saying.

[Mary Oliver {1935- }, 'I Want to Write Something So Simply', from Evidence: Poems]


you rock and reprimand, rock and groan

A year later you wonder how you ever loved him.
After all, you tell yourself, he was never more
than a frog, not even pretending to be a prince.
Even then, you think, even in those convulsions of love,
you saw the warts,
the leafslick spots, the cloak of slime:

he was silent because he couldn't speak,
motionless because he couldn't walk.
And yes, you knew it! Yes!
You only loved your own love, only
feasted on your own heart, only cherished
your own fondness for frogs.

But even as you rock and reprimand,
rock and groan, eyes shut in shame,
you remember the forest clearing,
the mossy lip of the well, the way the black water
fell to the center of the stone world,
a shaft of ice that split the grass,

and then there were ripples, circles,
animal honkings--rivet, rivet--
and your frog leaped out of silence.
As you sprawled on the lumpy ground, your own
reflection grew in the pool
where he rode like a toy boat.

You bent to kiss the water near him,
wanting to enter his cold glisten,
wanting to seize and wear him like a brooch,
wanting to swallow him as if he were a measure
of some bitter, alien liqueur.
Down and down you bent,

toward the emerald skin, the golden eyes,
closer than ever before
to your own wavering face.

[Sandra M. Gilbert {1936- }, 'A Year Later', from Kissing the Bread]


the lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus

  1. If you were stranded on an island, who do you wish to be with? I would probably want to be alone on that island for a while. After a week or so, though, I'm sure that the quiet would start to get to even me, and I would be pining for my good friends and some family.
  2. What do you feel right now? a little cold (the temperature barely got over 60° today), cranky that it's Sunday evening after another weekend that seemed to fly by, and a little sad.
  3. What chocolate is your favorite? I will usually choose milk chocolate over white or dark, but generally prefer salt before sugar.
  4. Why did you create a blog account? all the cool kids were doing it, way back when. It was an opportunity to create a secret life, in a sense, at a time when I seriously needed an outlet for complicated feelings that had no legitimate expression. And I've always fancied myself a writer.
  5. Who is your favorite blogger? I'm chagrined to admit that I spend almost no time reading blogs anymore, at least not in a regular sense. It's probably a symptom of my self-absorbed state of mind for the last few months.
  6. When was the last time you cried? Why? earlier today. I watched four films this weekend--Field of Dreams, Henry V, Zoolander, and Garden State, and all but one had me in tears at least once. I'm pretty soft on movies anyway, but this was a kind of extraordinary run even for me.
  7. Who is your best friend? D
  8. What kind of music do you listen to? a very wide variety, trending now toward somewhat older releases. The newer stuff is exhausting and feels anti-melodic; I prefer that which is created by musicians, rather than the sort better described as a product.
  9. Do you have troubles sleeping at night? depends on how gently I've been treating my soul and my back. I can't take things for granted like I used to.
  10. What do you prefer, jeans or shorts? jeans. There's a layer of ex-bf ugh in the wearing of shorts that just won't fade. Thank God it didn't extend to sandals, or summer would be awful!
  11. Did you try to change for a person? I have, and I think it's necessary to some point. I think, though, that setting out to be "the one who changes" or "the one who can change the other person" is a disaster. Relationships, if they're worth anything, are a chemical reaction--we are changed as the result of being together. To say, "You make me a better person," is truth. "He makes me funnier." "She smooths the rough edges off, and makes me easier in social situations." "You make me feel less shy." I don't think it's a matter of trying to change, but simply living up to the challenge and opportunity of a relationship, a friendship, a love, a family, a mentor, a great boss.... Seeing yourself through their eyes, and in so doing, letting who you really were supposed to be come through.
  12. Are you in a good or bad mood? probably 70/30
  13. Name someone you can’t live without. you can learn to live without the person you can't live without. It's not pretty and you're not the same, but it can happen.
  14. Do you have a grudge against anyone? oh Hell yeah
  15. Are you a crybaby? at times. One person gets the results of that surprisingly often, as I choke up with probably alarming frequently during our talks. Too much feeling and not the right words will do that.
  16. When people praise you for your looks, what feature do they praise? I can say that it doesn't happen all that often in a specific way, any longer. I am complimented now and then by the people with whom I work, who are typically surprised by my age. I take that to mean that I have good skin.
  17. What hair color do you prefer? on myself? It varies. Generally lighter rather than darker, though the underside and parts of the back are getting darker again. It's a sort of blond-on-top, purple-underneath deal right now. I have an appointment on Friday to have it done again. I don't have anything specific in mind. Maybe blonder and a shorter cut...?
  18. If you can change anything about yourself, what is it? I would love to lose about 50 pounds, grow stronger and longer fingernails, and accomplish the task that I set for myself about a week ago.
  19. Can you live without Internet? yep
  20. Have you ever experienced being hysterical? I think so? I've had a couple of panic attacks (several years ago), the specifics of which are a little hard to recall over time, because they were so overwhelming. I think that the body and mind can make that sort of memory difficult to retain, simply for self-preservation purposes.

    More recently, there were a couple of days in mid- to late November that were a blur, for which I am very grateful.
  21. Did you have an accident last year? now, there's some irony. No, I did not.
  22. What are you thinking right now? loss. Love and loss.
  23. Have you been hurt so bad that you can’t find words to explain how you feel? Wow, these four questions in a row are like a body-slam.

    Yes, I have. Death, mourning, grieving - there are not words.
  24. Do you have trust issues? yes. Who doesn't?
  25. Who’s the person who first comes to your mind when someone mentions “love”? he knows.
  26. Do you believe in the phrase “If it’s meant to be, it will be”? sort of? I mean, I just got through watching Garden State, so I'm riding along on that feeling.

    "...you changed my life in four days. This is the beginning of something really big."
  27. Do you believe in destiny? see, most of the time I'm probably not going to fall on the side of destiny per se. I think that there is some dumb luck--you turn the corner at the right time and run into someone you're supposed to meet, or the friend who knows someone who might be able to hook you up with a job is the one you happen to ask about jobs, and so forth--but most of it is your own willingness to get out there and walk, or ask, and then to do something with it when it falls into your lap. Don't just wait for it: do it.
  28. How do you look right now? comfortable and sleepy
  29. Did you ever feel like you’re not good enough? yep, pretty often. I try not to listen, though.
  30. Favorite city? depends. It's been far too long since I've been to Miami, but I'm not sure I will go back there. I may need to find a different 'spiritual home.' It's likely to be a while before I'm in a position to take any vacations anyway. There's time to figure it out.

[from The Cat, who got it here; the title quotation is by Wallace Stegner, from The Spectator Bird]

Not knowing what you held

Your arms around me all night
I woke to find me there
Not knowing what you held
By the tenderness holding me
And once my eyes opened on
Tearing through your face
In the act of come,
I didn’t know you looked like that

Everything I love, I need to be
Hides in you.

[Elise Cowen {1933-1962}, 'Your Arms Around Me All Night', from Poems and Fragments]