“You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.
So many live on and want nothing
And are raised to the rank of prince
By the slippery ease of their light judgments
But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
To dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.”
No, I couldn’t make present
the tender way he took my body in the night
into his arms, holding his one radiance to me
like a wet match upon which one
dry spot remained and he turned just so and struck himself
against me and there was a blazing up, the way the night
ignites with more than lips and parted legs
when two souls
in their firefly selves
come together asking
to be buried in the no-song-left-but-this dark.
I have named you queen.
There are taller ones than you, taller.
There are purer ones than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
When you go through the streets
no one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
at the carpet of red gold
that you tread as you pass,
the nonexistent carpet.
And when you appear all the rivers sound
in my body, bells
shake the sky, and a hymn fills the world.
Only you and I,
only you and I, my love,
listen to it.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.—Pablo Neruda
He met a woman.
He spent the night with her.
He was ready to leave in the morning when she started to tell him
About a book she’d read.
He’d read it; he’d never met another person who had.
They held each other, in that way of good feeling.
At that moment, his heart opened just a little bit
(—The space between the hands of the Virgin Mary, when they’re
held in front of her chest—)
Small, but big enough for a small light to shine out of.
His heart opened, and this woman happened to be there.
It could have been another woman, another place.
His time had come.
Sorry, [their relationship] didn’t last.
When she left him, he felt sad, with a sadness that befits a small opening
With a large and benevolent protectiveness around it.
He was protected.
He couldn’t endure much.
After a long time, I think he will get another chance.
Maybe another kind of love for this heart.
I’m writing his story, and I’ve heard
That some people, when their hearts open,
They rain stones onto the floor,
Gold coins fly like those from the jackpot of a slot machine,
A frightening and unendurable joy: I know
Some people feel their ribs widen and their bodies rack
with sobs, for how long it’s taken.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.
That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.
Body, like the mountain
Heart, like the ocean
Mind, like the sky.
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it—it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less—
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars—on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
Haiku For The Desert Sky
You were blue today
So I told you, “You look nice.”
And you were still blue.
My home was not that yellow house
Where my mother took to alcohol
To quell the pains that I am only now
Given to understand.
My home was the yard behind it
On moonless nights
With 6,000 stars overhead
Where I’d find peace.
You can never go home again
Wrote Thomas Wolfe—how did he know
They’d build up my hometown
And need more streetlights?
Now my home is a Brigadoon
That returns on that rare night
When power fails
Under clear skies.