"Not enough. One life is not enough.
I’d like to live twice on this sad planet,
In lonely cities, in starved villages,
To look at all evil, at the decay of bodies,
And probe the laws to which the time was subject,
Time that howled above us like a wind."
Czeslaw Milosz, from Dawns, trans. Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Hass
In the silence of consciousness I asked myself:
why did I reject my life? And I answer
Die Erde überwältigt mich:
the earth defeats me.
I have tried to be accurate in this description
in case someone else should follow me. I can verify
that when the sun sets in winter it is
incomparably beautiful and the memory of it
lasts a long time. I think this means
there was no night.
The night was in my head.
"Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To entire fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food."
"To all situations where the boundaries
between life and death are blurred,
remember: Life is the one that eats. "
— Angela Patten, from “Happiness: The Feeling of Increasing,” Michigan Quarterly Review (Winter 2002)
"A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity."
"What do love and hate matter
when I’m here alone,
listening to the sound of the rain
late in this autumn evening."
Dogen, from The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace by Steven Heine
(with thanks to Whiskey River)
"But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing —"
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day” in House of Light
"Give me an ear and I will give you a voice."
The wax has melted
but the dream of flight
I, Icarus, though grounded
in my flesh
have one bright section in me
where a bird
night after starry night
while I’m asleep
unfolds its phantom wings
"There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood –
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time."
Bliss Carman, Vagabond Song
Turn it over and look up
into the sphere of heaven.
The tracery is lucent,
light seeping through to write,
white-ink your face, upturned.
Swing it below
and it’s a cradle of blue water,
the sea, a womb.
A mixing bowl
for Babylonian gods.
Here, they whirl up the cosmos.
Pick it up and your hands
form a pedestal,
and all who drink
contain the arcs
of body and the universe—
and between them,
no imaginable tear or distance.
Valerie Martínez, “Bowl,” from World to World (University of Arizona Press, 2004)
"I want to gather your darkness
in my hands, to cup it like water
I want this in the same way
as I want to touch your cheek –
it is the same –
the way a moth will come
to the bedroom window in late September,
beating and beating its wings against the cold glass,
the way a horse will lower
his long head to water, and drink,
and pause to lift his head and look,
and drink again,
taking everything in with the water,
where we live
is no place
to lose your wings.
So love, love,
"Your soul is blowing apart."