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Living the Question

Today is the second-last day of a month I have given myself, to think (and perhaps more importantly, not to think), about what I want for what happens next.

Today I went looking for three poems that might tell me something.  One of them I knew already to look for.  Knew already to start with.  That was the one by Rilke.

Then there was Rumi, telling me to be wholehearted.  Roethke, reminding me that we think by feeling (though I have been doing that for a while now, and Audre Lorde has been helping...).  And Ruefle, telling me that I am, as I suspected, the only one who knows the answer...

I had wanted three poems.  I found four.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[mercoledì 30 gennaio 2019 ore 13:45:00] []

Comment est-ce possible? (Rassure-toi: comme tout le monde.)

Last night we came home from a good day together, and decided to watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Avoue que tu es contente.

It had been on my list for years, one more in a dwindling many of movies that my father loved and thought I might love too.  A past I open one present at a time.

Pourquoi s’éloigne-t-il de moi?

Of course, then, I did love it.  We both did.  From that opening sequence, like a poem in spiraling color.

C’est tout ce qui me reste de lui.

After the movie we looked up the composer on YouTube—we had never heard of him before—and fell asleep to his moving, luminous score.  This morning as I’m browsing the news sites, I see his name come up: Michel Legrand.  I see that he died, yesterday.

C’est drôle, l’absence...

Of course it means nothing.  We picked the movie because we were already sleepy, and this was the shortest movie on the list of movies we’ve been wanting to watch.

But still.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 27 gennaio 2018 ore 10:01:29] []

Absent Presence: for Jeannie, Jalina, and you.

This, from Hemingway, in a letter he wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald: I do [like to write letters] because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something . . .

This, from the Introduction to Rilke’s Letters (Volume 1, from 1892–1910): Letters were to Rilke at once a means of communication and a channel for artistic expression.  Like Donne, he found that
             . . . more than kisses, letters mingle Soules . . .


And this, from Arundhati Roy, in The God of Small Things: There are things that you can't do — like writing letters to a part of yourself.  To your feet or hair.  Or heart.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[giovedì 24 gennaio 2018 ore 16:01:27] []

now appears to us in a mysterious light”

These days I’m reading Carolyn Forché.  Which means I’m also reading Mahmoud Darwish.  And finally (though it’s never finally, thank goodness), Naomi Shihab Nye.

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.


I look back on the last year and try to find kindness for it.  After all it was not your fault, 2018.  Most of the trouble—you didn’t even start it.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 13 gennaio 2019 ore 15:01:27] []