He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
It is the precise bit and feel and sound of every step that fills me with life.
Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
For my father, on day 10 of the Camino de Santiago.
Very simple love that believes in words,
since I cannot do what I want to do,
can neither hug nor kiss you,
my pleasure lies in my words
and when I can I speak to you of love.
So, sitting with a drink in front of me,
the place filled with people,
if your forehead quickly creases
in the heat of the moment I speak too loudly
and you never say don’t be so loud,
let them think whatever they want
I draw closer melting with languor
and your eyes are so sweetly veiled
I don’t reach for you, no, not even the softest touch
but in your body I feel I am swimming,
and the couch in the bar’s lounge
when we get up looks like an unmade bed.
- Patrizia Cavalli (trans. by J.D. McClatchy)
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.
—Louise Glück, from “Landscape” in Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)
Writing is, literally, brain surgery.
If a lone feather fell from the sky,
like a paper plane wafting down
from a tree house where a quiet boy
has been known to hide,
you might think message or perhaps
mischief, not just some midair
molting of a bird.
But what if many feathers fell
from a place seemingly higher
than any boy could ever climb,
beyond the top of Savage Mountain
and obscured by clouds.
What might you think then?
A flock of birds smithereened
by hunters? By a jet?
And let’s say the feathers were large
and grayish, some of them bloody,
with signs of tendon and muscle
broken off, would you worry about
a resurgence of enormous raptors
only the air force knew about
and had decided to destroy?
For years now you’d heard rumors
of homeless gods in the vast emptiness.
And if they’d appear in your dreams,
as they sometimes did,
begging to believed in once again,
you’d feel this icy refusal hardening in you.
And when you woke you’d feel it, too.
Your better self wished to believe
the feathers signaled a parade, an occasion
of triumph, and what was falling
might be a new kind of confetti.
But what, really, was there to celebrate?
Was the world, as you knew it, simply over,
no more rain or snow? Would there always be
this strange detritus coming down,
covering what used to be the ground?
- Stephen Dunn