I’ve been ill. That, and I’ve been thinking. Sometimes thinking makes me write. Sometimes thinking makes me wait. And these days, it’s the latter.
I have things to tell you, dear reader. I want to tell you about the people in my life (a forthcoming series in the making, debuting next week, or this weekend if I can’t wait, called Imagine All The People. Tell your friends. Seriously); I want to tell you how Kenny taught me to eat oranges in a hotel in Israel at Christmas; I want to tell you about “my” dogs in Korea; I want to list a few things I don’t understand and ask for your readerly wisdom; I’d like to talk to you about walking and falling in love with the sound of my feet against the sidewalk; and I'd particularly like to write some hate mail to a fellow expat on the train today. See? So many things to tell you. But right now, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been reading.
I find the weirdest, most wonderful books here. First, I found Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, which I am still copying out by hand, feeling the beauty of every adverb, every comma, every perfectly placed word. And now I’ve found more Rilke. I’ve read Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet more than once, as I’m sure all writers have. But I’m now reading some of his poems that have been collected as Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. The German poems are printed across from the English translation. And this reminds me of my good friend Carmen, who is a pro translator and incredible woman who can speak German (and a buncha other languages too, for that matter).
Rilke is making me think. And leading me into deep places. I am taking my time wading in the dark waters here. And it’s pleasant, a little bit scary, and it’s stirring me up. Which all good poetry does.
I have uttered this poem and prayer for three days now. Speak this poem, please. It makes all the difference.
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, please forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.