"I'll put it out there: I am scarred by the nostalgic indecipherability of my own desires; I am engulfed by the intimidating unknown, pushed through darkness and dragged down by the irretrievable past sweetness of my memories."
- Anne Sexton
You will walk toward the mirror,
closer and closer, then flow
into the glass. You will disappear
some day like that, being
more real, more true, at the last.
You learn what you are, but slowly,
a child, a woman, a man,
a self often shattered, and pieces
put together again, till the end:
you halt, the glass opens -
A surface, an image, a past.
- William Stafford
Used up by the years, my memory
loses its grip on words that I have vainly
repeated and repeated. My life in the same way
weaves and unweaves its weary history.
Then I tell myself: it must be that the soul
has some secret, sufficient way of knowing
that it is immortal, that its vast, encompassing
circle can take in all, can accomplish all.
Beyond my anxiety, beyond this writing,
the universe waits, inexhaustible, inviting.
- Jorge Luis Borges
from Poem Written in a Copy of Beowulf
translated by Alastair Reid
"Each person is a great mystery, to himself and to others. We see the ever-changing play of light and shadow upon the superficial aspects of ourselves, but of the endless depths that lie beneath we are for the most part ignorant or unconscious. At any time, however, currents flowing from these depths may sweep us unexpectedly into thoughts, actions, or even lifestyles we would now find inconceivable. We may then rise to heights of achievement or fall far below what we would have believed possible in others. Yet how easy it is to pass judgment based on what people manifest of themselves outwardly at any given time, as if this could approach the totality of who they really are."
- Sarah Belle Dougherty
"Deep in the forest there's an unexpected clearing that can be reached only by someone who has lost his way.
The clearing is enclosed in a forest that is choking itself. Black trunks with the ashy beard stubble of lichen. The trees are tangled tightly together and are dead right up to the tops, where a few solitary green twigs touch the light. Beneath them: shadow brooding on shadow, and the swamp growing.
But in the open space the grass is unexpectedly green and alive. There are big stones lying here as if they'd been arranged. They must be the foundation stones of a house, but I could be wrong. Who lived here? No one can tell us. The names exist somewhere in an archive that no one opens (only archives stay young). The oral tradition has died and with it the memories. The gypsy people remember but those who have learned to write forget. Write down, and forget.
The homestead murmurs with voices, it is the center of the world. But the inhabitants die or move out, the chronicle breaks off. Desolate for many years. And the homestead becomes a sphinx. At last everything's gone, except for the foundation stones.
Somehow I've been here before, but now I must go. I dive in among the thickets. I can push my way through only with one step forward and two to the side, like a chess knight. Bit by bit the forest thins and lightens. My steps get longer. A footpath creeps toward me. I am back in the communications network.
On the humming electricity pole a beetle is sitting in the sun. Beneath the shining wing covers its wings are folded up as ingeniously as a parachute packed by an expert."
- Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robin Fulton
The Great Enigma
"Because getting to know the world happens anyway, by living in it, as soon as you walk out the door you're confronted with the world directly. With the whole world. With up and down, back and front, ugliness and beauty, perfectly normal. There's no need to want this. It happens of its own accord. And if you never leave the house, the process is the same."
- Thomas Bernhard
Advice from La Llorona
- a found poem
Each grief has its unique side.
Choose the one that appeals to you.
Your body needs energy to repair the amputation.
Humor phantom pain.
Your brain cells are soaked with salt;
connections fail unexpectedly and often.
Ask for help.
Read your grief like the daily newspaper:
headlines may have information you need.
Scream. Drop-kick the garbage can across the street.
Don't feel guilty if you have a good time.
Don't act as if you haven't been hit by a Mack Truck.
Do things a little differently
but don't make a lot of changes.
Revel in contradiction.
Talk to the person who died.
Give her a piece of your mind.
Try to touch someone at least once a day.
Approach grief with determination.
Pretend the finish line doesn't keep receding.
Lean into the pain.
You can't outrun it.
- Deborah A. Miranda
The Zen of La Llorona
How many years have slipped through our hands?
At least as many as the constellations we still can identify.
The quarter moon, like a light skiff,
floats out of the mist-remnants
Of last night's hard rain.
It, too, will slip through our fingers
with no ripple, without us in it.
- Charles Wright