Speak Softly ...
Speak softly; you're older than the one
you were so long; you're older
than yourself--and yet you still don't know
what absence, poetry, and gold are.
Rusty water swept the street: a brief storm
shook this supine, sleepy city.
Each storm is a valediction, scores of photographers
seem to swirl above us, catching in a flash
our moments of panic and fear.
You know what mourning is, despair so fierce
it chokes the heart's rhythm and the future.
You've cried among strangers, in a modern store,
where deft coins make the rounds.
You've seen Venice and Sienna and, in paintings, on the streets,
doleful young Madonnas, who wish they were
ordinary girls dancing at carnivals.
You've also seen small towns, not beautiful at all,
old people, worn by pain and time.
Eyes shone in medieval icons,
the eyes of swarthy saints, wild animals' bright eyes.
You picked dry pebbles from the beach at la Galere,
and suddenly you felt as fond of them
--of them and the slender pine,
and everyone else there, and the sea,
which is powerful indeed, but very lonely--
as if we were all orphans
from the same home, parted for good
and granted only momentary visits
in the chilly prisons of the present.
Speak softly: you're no longer young,
revelation must make peace with weeks of Lent,
you must choose, surrender, stall for time,
hold long talks with envoys from dry countries
and cracked lips, you must wait,
write letters, read books of five hundred pages.
Speak softly. Don't give up on poetry.
My poem-of-the-afternoon, from Without End, New and Selected Poems, Adam Zagajewski.
And a photo from one of those days when my purse was filled with pebbles by small hands.
A more valuable currency, one could not find.
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