There she is.
I wondered how she’d look tonight
when earlier today
I swept free the cobwebs from the legs of a patio chair.
Irritable and stately,
half a cloud sliding from one nude shoulder.
Radiant and hungry,
searching for the approval she knows she deserves.
Wide eyed and watchful
99.7 percent full
encountering the events of the world
just as it is today:
November on the coat of a cat.
Crickets at precisely 7:58 PM.
and my mother,
sliding in a pan of cupcakes for my birthday.
I can hold my daughter’s compassion in firelight
one tiny log at a time
make it last
her ashes falling into my cup
I can hold the weight of the moon in my breath
one porcelain eye on my chest
make me see
her ashes falling into my cup
I can hold my soul in the sinew of both hands
one sacred goddess rising
make her return
as ashes falling into my cup
Mary asked good questions. The kind only a woman thinks.
Do I see you with my soul or with my spirit?
He smiled. The deep kind that starts in the eye.
Neither. It’s your mind, Miriam, the space between the two.
She chewed on that awhile, holding the weight of her hair at the top of her head.
I ate you with my mind, she said, and now you’re inside of me.
Yes, a woman’s magic.
To suckle the world and then devour it like Kali.
To suffer the stone of truth like Cassandra.
To choose blood over honey like Eve.
To cut strange fruit like Billie Holiday at Cafe Society in Greenwich Village.
To cry out your gratuitous pleasure.
To harvest your ancient, rounded, beauty.
To brave your raw death.
To become Corinthian Love.
He who has the mind to remember,
Let him Remember.
… Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) — they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you have long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else — ); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, — and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves — only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
By Rainer Maria Rilke.
Poetry making always comes with this song for me: