Two Quatrains, Yehuda Amichai

Jonah and His Dark Fish, Anon 1300-1400

I.
Once I escaped, but I do not remember why or from which god.
I shall therefore travel through my life like Jonah in his dark fish.
We’ve settled it between us, I am the fish, we’re both in the world’s bowels.
I shall not come out, he will not digest me.

II.
The last rains came on a warm night. In the morning my disaster blossomed.
The race is over. Who is first, who is second?
After our death, we could play: I shall be you, you — me.
In the dead moon, in the dead moon, in the returning ancient time, in my window tree.

~Yehuda Amichai
(translated by Assia Gutmann)

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Beginners, Denise Levertov

In memory of Roberta Rachael Flannery  January 1938 – December 2018

Beginners

“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea—“

rachael_sunset
But we have only begun
To love the earth.

We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.

How could we tire of hope?

—so much is in bud.

How can desire fail?
—we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.

Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot

drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet—
there is too much broken
that must be mended,

too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

~Denise Levertov

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Dogspel, Ann Cefola

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In the beginning was the Bone
and the Bone was good and strong, it grew
outward in layers, flushed inside by beating blood,
held by organs, muscle and sinew, until with a yelp
and flash of water emerged with other bones, blind
and mouthing toward a teat, squirming bones,
minute paws and the long-sanded tongue that cleaned,
organized and let the tiny sacks of calcium sleep and start
the mysterious journey where dream and life are one,
rolling back and forth, entry and exit
scented and calling
Come, come.

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Late Fragment, Raymond Carver

ophelia, odilon redon

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
to call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

~Raymond Carver

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End of Winter, Louise Gluck

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs.

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Plunging ahead
into the dark and light at the same time
eager for sensation

as though you were some new thing, wanting
to express yourselves

all brilliance, all vivacity

never thinking
this would cost you anything,
never imagining the sound of my voice
as anything but part of you—

you won’t hear it in the other world,
not clearly again,
not in birdcall or human cry,

not the clear sound, only
persistent echoing
in all sound that means good-bye, good-bye—

the one continuous line
that binds us to each other.

~Louise Gluck

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Light is the Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guinn

Light is the left hand of darkness,and darkness the right hand of light.  Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer, like hands joined together, like the end and the way.

~Ursula K. Le Guin 1(21 Oct 929 – 22 Jan 2018)

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The Waking, Theodore Roethke

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

~Theodore Roethke

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