Monday, September 17, 2012

light and cloudshadows

‎"So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

The full text of the letter from which this quotation comes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Peggy Seeger - First time ever I saw your face




What I want to reach for in the wild
landscape is your body.
The folds of your shirt curved around
your lifted arm, the wings
of your back. Your face turned toward the hillside
horizon troubles me because certainty
is unfamiliar, we are so new.

(I spent ten years
waiting for feeling.
I wanted to leap train to train,
spring up a mountain clawed and crested,
lie in a tent with stones
blading into my hips
all night.)

The bones of my body are welcome in this desert.
(I hate the desert, I said. I hate the cacti. I want to go home.)

You take my blood between your fingertips and roll the cells
like fine thread on a loom. Everything is blooming and it is spring.


Before we ever touched, you returned to me a story
that I had mislaid.
The vast blue of desert sky over my girl-eyes,
back flat on the ground,
runner’s breath into the azure
that pressed me down.

Vast I said. And blue. How do you
know, when you are nine,
that you are touching sacred space?
How do you know, when you are
thirty-nine, or fifty?

: When the lover disappears and the beloved disappears.
When there is nothing but sky.


(The desert scared hell out of me and I was foreign in it,
unfound. Detroit, I chanted. ConcreteClouds.

I threw out two ice scrapers, a steel snow shovel,
and all of my super-wool up-north socks.
No one listening.
Leather jacket! Bar shows,
gyrations, gasoline.


Your face turned toward the hillside horizon is an act of love. Poetry,
I said quietly.
Thirty feet east could be the one.


The desert sings to you and you follow the rituals in the song.

My dark bird self-flung into the canyon,
landing nowhere. Symbols drained, incantations lost
their comfort. Taken down. Your face turned to the hillside.
Horizon your face. We walked together in the desert

and I felt the sky again.
(Aging invisible as torn paper,
silence a cotton choke, unseen accretion
crudely swallowed.)

Turned and saw. To the hillside, the plants—

And stones, the first one picked up and carried talismanic,
glinting chips of mica through the knuckles of my fist.

Spines and nodules, tangles, 
mats of bristling defense

in starlike heat exposed. My face raw and recognized.

Beyond ground, we reach the wild landscape.
I open my throat to the hum we make.

Six miles apart, you hold my blood between your fingers.
Welcome, body, home. 

-Amanda Michno