I took this [film] photo in the Scottish highlands
in 1980, when I was pregnant with Lesley
I heard Representative Gabby Giffords' halting voice on the radio, recorded for the audio version of her new book. She speaks, she thinks, she attaches sentences to one another (with great difficulty), though she was shot in the head only months ago in a shopping center parking lot. My friend Susie is presenting testimony before Ohio legislators today, asking them to consider, please, not allowing people to text or even use hands-free cell phones while driving, after her granddaughter was killed in August when the driver behind was on her cell phone. I am home this morning and I can't go for a walk for fear that hunters might shoot me. There are dangers all around. How to live, without fear?
As I was thinking about these things, bits of poems surfaced, as if, like whitecaps on a stormy lake, they wanted to be scooped up by the wind, and tossed together in the air. So I have strung together the bits of poems in a found poem. Please see the list of references below, which gives the titles of the poems they are from. By the way, the top lines were posted at the Rilke blog a few days ago, from a poem elegy Rilke wrote to Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva, a poet who committed suicide. (Her backstory in the Russian revolution is here.)
When I get to the last lines, by William Carlos Williams, I think of life, and death, in one whole poem of his existence. This is all a mystery, how to live . . .
in the face of death, despair and fear
Waves, Marina, we are the ocean! Depths, Marina, we are the sky!Earth, Marina, we are earth, a thousand times spring.We are larks whose outbursts of songfling them to the heavens.
When the ocean comes to you as a lover,marry, at once, quickly,for God's sake!
Tonight as it gets coldtell yourselfwhat you know which is nothingbut the tune your bones playas you keep going. And you will be ablefor once to lie down under the small fireof winter stars.
How can you aim a fire?
The golden sheep are feeding, andTheir mouths harbour contentment;Gladly my tongue praisesThis hour scourged of dissensionBy weight of their joyous fleeces.
Practical to the end,it is the poemof his existencethat triumphedfinally.
(from "Elegy to Marina Tsvetayeva-Efrom (II)" by Rainer Maria Rilke)(from "No Better Gift" by Rumi)
(from "Lines of Winter" by Mark Strand)
(from "blue" by Cara Benson)(from "To a Very Slow Air" by Philip Larkin)
(from "The Sparrow" by William Carlos Williams)