Paul Celan

17 March 2008

A poem, being an instance of language, hence essentially dialogue, may be a letter in a bottle thrown out to sea with the—not always strong—hope that it may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on a shoreline of the heart.

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Rumi

15 January 2008

I saw you last night in the gathering,
but could not take you openly in my arms,

so I put my lips next to your cheek,
pretending to talk privately.

Basilica, 1994

19 November 2007

Coming to you is to the altar
of one of those strange
Central American
gold and silver houses of light.

I am surrounded by people who know what to do
in this place. I hide myself.

Will you make me dance on the roof of their mouths?
Will you force me into the hands of strangers
to be read and folded like other pages
when until now I would not call out a name,
not even my own?

(For the sake of yours I have called out my own.)

Hammer me on the anvil, cook me like the chickpea
eat me like the sweet pea because
I am not any one thing any more.

In your house I see the little hands and feet the Catholics put up.
Nothing to give, but you don’t have anything either.
I will go when these verses have filled up
your skin, the edge
of one hour, the soul that existed, you said,
and must live forever.