The Book of Hours, Rilke

an excerpt from this particular translation of The Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“There girls blossom into the unknown
and regret their quiet childhood; what they burn for
cannot exist for them; immature
they fold tremblingly upon themselves
and in their back rooms, curtained off, wring
from disillusioned motherhood only
drawn-out nights of helpless whimpering
and chilly years lacking any fight.
And deathbeds stand there in the gloom; soon
and imperceptibly they come to want them;
and die their dragging death in chains, and wander
away out of their lives like beggar-women.”

up the moraine again

rustle of summer dried grass
stir of a cool autumn wind

three rocks sitting in my path
for weight, grounding, heart
picked up and clutched in my right hand, rolled back and forth

feet stepping stepping stepping
unsteady body following close behind
the worn dirt, now slippery dust, and plants as I brace myself

step slowly on the trail, clear a sit space
notice for the first time a boulder shaped like an aging aardvark
continue on

searching for my feet
my breath
a settling that feels like distant memory

lasting summer

the red wine lingering sweet on the back of my tongue
skin sunburned again
toes salve-soaked
and metallic polished

cold sheets, abandoned hammock
bodies lying together, I wish for further apart
star gazing turned wet tongue
willingly bathed in moonlight

still lake water and the creek slow-flowing past camp
leaning against logs, pour steaming tea
onto stilted conversation, whitebark pine
and which direction to wander

shrunk

loud voices waft over from city park, reminding me of one year ago
— green grass, obligation, bedsheet bedroom, a beginning

nights driving along dark roads, my heart running wild with each rotation of the tires
did anyone know?
my insides were a city of hopelessness, a graveyard of severed wings
I was small and malnourished, a tender, fragile thing
dreaming desperately of warmth

but fuck if I can explain it, the emptiness
I guess to remember is to learn is to grow is to change but remembering feels a little like dying, or holding hands with death
interlacing fingers, palms pressed together with the near-looter of my soul

do you know cold? or alone?
I know them, too well
gave them to myself as gifts I couldn’t stop unwrapping
mornings and noons and nights of grey, I’d run religiously
pounding pavement like it could save me

like the flat lines in my life were normal, the way my hands on the steering wheel itched towards the concrete barrier, the unbearable weight of my body, the days and days and days spent trapping myself in that ice blue bedroom willing every part of me to be “better”

could you help me change the record I’m playing?
I hear it, too loud
someone told me once, or maybe a few times and I believed them:
you’re a burden, you don’t belong, you’re too much, you’re not enough, you’re a waste of time and energy and space

and so I shrunk
shrunk in and down and quiet and small
into a pit of darkness too deep for ropes and too unsteady for ladders
to sit and shiver and wait alone

 

house of stillness

I’d put a mustard yellow door on my house of stillness
tucked in so quietly at the end of a long, overgrown road

inside small clusters of wildflowers populate a few windowsills,
soft green moss cover most of the worn wood floor

sun-faded wallpaper with lines of lupine, sage, paintbrush, columbine
run up and down the walls

open windows welcome the gentlest breeze, sliding in
curling around and whisking out the door

thick adobe walls separate sound, heat, cold, light–
cool to palm, to cheek, body resting against changed earth

for stability and strength

and you

spinning spinning spinning here in this room,
tiny candles scattered on tall stumps, bodies folded into wooden chairs
-and you

the crackling fire pushing warm air onto cold skin,
sleepy voices singing slow melodies standing on carpeted ground
-and you

hand on my knee (on my heart, god damn it)
listening and nodding, clutching a black-bound scribbled setlist
-and you

strumming hands, harmonica mouth, closed eyes
words about heartbreak and hair and hooves and home
singing the room to life

familiar

I like knowing the streets of a place, and then the alleys, the back ways, the sidestreets,

minutes + miles from one to another

growing familiar through snow
rain
sunshine
hail
clouds
fog
darkness
light

through salty tears
eye crinkling smiles
tight lipped silence
jaw clenched in fear
brow furrowed in anger

at sunset
midday
twilight
daybreak
dinnertime
before dawn

reading street signs
seeing nothing
listening closely
hardly moving
floating numbly

stepping heavy

feet sandaled
booted
skipping
dancing
dragging
unsteady
barefoot
roller blades