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For the second installment of the bedtime series, Wayne Dodd’s “Of Rain and Air.” I left it on an evergreen tree bordering an RV park.

 

 

Of Rain and Air

by Wayne Dodd

 

All day I have been closed up

inside rooms, speaking of trivial

matters. Now at last I have come out

into the night, myself a center

 

of darkness.

Beneath the clouds the low sky glows

with scattered lights. I can hardly think

this is happening. Here in this bright absence

 

of day, I feel myself opening out

with contentment.

All around me the soft rain is whispering

of thousands of feet of air

 

invisible above us.

 

 

It’s a common phenomenon that when you’re pregnant or wanting to get pregnant, suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere. That same selective attention carries over to covid-19 and poetry. Suddenly every poem seems to be a pandemic poem, a reflection on quarantine, anxiety, isolation, longing, loss. Like so—

 

All day I have been closed up

inside rooms

 

The closing emotion of the poem, too, might belong to the pandemic, to those moments when the slowing and reduction of regular life brings peace instead of panic—

 

I can hardly think

this is happening. Here in this bright absence

 

of day, I feel myself opening out

with contentment.

 

I’ve had many such moments the past few months, and I hope you have too, but then again I haven’t experienced the virus itself, the loss of loved ones from the virus, severe isolation, job loss, home loss, being quarantined with an unstable or abusive person, exhaustion and stress from full-time childcare.

 

Well, take what you can from the poem. In classic woe-is-me conditions—darkness, rain, aloneness—the speaker feels happy. Standing in the elements enlarges his soul. His connection to the natural world is just so beautifully expressed, it bears re-reading, and more re-reading, and then reflecting upon as you lay your head on your pillow tonight:

 

All around me the soft rain is whispering

of thousands of feet of air

 

invisible above us.

 

*

 

Poet, essayist and novelist Wayne Dodd was born in Oklahoma in 1930. He taught at University of Colorado and Ohio University where he served for many years as editor of the Ohio Review. He’s published eleven books of poetry.

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Touch Me

by Stanley Kunitz

 

Summer is late, my heart.

Words plucked out of the air

some forty years ago

when I was wild with love

 

and torn almost in two

scatter like leaves this night

of whistling wind and rain.

It is my heart that’s late,

it is my song that’s flown.

Outdoors all afternoon

under a gunmetal sky

staking my garden down,

I kneeled to the crickets trilling

underfoot as if about

to burst from their crusty shells;

and like a child again

marveled to hear so clear

and brave a music pour

from such a small machine.

What makes the engine go?

Desire, desire, desire.

The longing for the dance

stirs in the buried life.

One season only,

and it’s done.

 

So let the battered old willow

thrash against the windowpanes

and the house timbers creak.

Darling, do you remember

the man you married? Touch me,

remind me who I am.

 

 

I’m going to try to write a post about a poem called “Touch Me” without mentioning our long months of physical distancing and bumping elbows to say hello and pantomiming hugs to say goodbye; without mentioning how we are all old people now, isolated and longing to be touched; without mentioning the parallels between the forty years since the poet spoke his words of love (“Summer is late, my heart”) and the biblical forty years of wandering in the desert which is how long it feels some days being separated from people we love because of the coronavirus.

 

Instead I’m going back thirty-three years, to my wedding day. The summer I got married cicadas came out of a seventeen-year hibernation to sing, mate, lay eggs and die, all in a few short weeks. They covered lawns and sidewalks with their toe-sized shells and filled the air with their shrieks and unexpected dive-bombings. Outdoors you had to shout to be heard and watch your step lest you crunch one underfoot. I didn’t know if the cicada swarm was a good omen—they live to love!—or bad—life is brutally short, you’ll just have babies and die!— or as Kunitz puts it

 

The longing for the dance

stirs in the buried life.

One season only,

and it’s done.

 

But it didn’t matter. Something was happening. Something elemental and big. As it happens, the day of our wedding was brutally hot and marked by an epic thunderstorm, so between the downpour of rain and locusts, my sense of—what was it?—wildness? freedom? possibility?—let’s call it my animal sense—was stronger than the stifling strictures of wedding traditions.

 

This poem brings back that feeling with force. Being in nature, particularly before a storm, the animal parts wake up. Notice the speaker in the poem is feeling the old zing-a-ding-ding after being in the garden. Not after sitting at his computer watching old-people porn or noticing a beautiful young girl in her thong at the beach or swiping through Instagram pictures of hybrid beings with duck lips and hair extensions. He’s on his knees, digging earth. Crickets are whirring, the dark clouds forecast the heavy rain that will come later as he lies in bed with his wife.

 

If you didn’t notice just how sexy this poem is, listen to the poet read it. Yes, he is a very old man. Doesn’t matter. As he reads, the thrashing willow branches turn into thrashing bodies and the creaking house timbers signal a creaking mattress or maybe even creaking joints, given his age.

 

 

 

*

 

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) had a tough start in his very long life. Weeks before he was born, his father, a bankrupt dressmaker, committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid in a public park. Kunitz had two older sisters and a mother who worked, unusual for the time, as a dress designer and manufacturer. His mother remarried, and Kunitz’s stepdad too, came to an unfortunate end. After declaring bankruptcy and learning he was being investigated for concealing assets in his dry goods store, he had a heart attack while hanging curtains. Kunitz was fourteen.

 

Kunitz moved out of the house the next year, worked for a butcher, then for a newspaper, saving money to go to Harvard. He graduated with highest honors in English and philosophy, and went on to get a masters degree. He was foiled in his attempt to get a PhD by an administrator who old him that no one at Harvard wanted to be taught by a Jew. His “revenge” was becoming, later in life, a beloved teacher and mentor who influenced a generation of poets, including James Wright and Louise Gluck.

 

After completing his education, he worked as a reporter and editor. During World War II he registered as a conscientious objector (he was denied) and sent to serve as a noncombatant at a base in Washington in charge of information and education.

 

Kunitz taught at many colleges, including Bennington, Vassar, New School, Yale, Princeton, SUNY, eventually teaching writing for eighteen years at Columbia.

 

He married three times and had a daughter with wife number two. His third wife, to whom “Touch Me” was written, was artist Elise Asher. Theirs was a long marriage. They split their time between New York and Provincetown, where he was famous for his garden.

 

Kunitz published more than twenty books of poetry, received the Pulitzer Prize and became U.S poet laureate for the second time at age 95.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s the last of the guest postings on Poem Elf.  I’m not going to throw shade on all the other posters by suggesting I’ve saved the best for last—each entry has been a wonder to me—but I am mighty pleased to end this collaboration with a poem perfectly suited to these pandemic days and posted in the same spirit of delight that I still feel, ten years on, every time I poem-elf.

 

Brooklyn editor and screenwriter Molly Virostek posted not one but four (clearly she loves this poem and you will too) copies of Mary Ruefle’s “Some Nondescript Autumn Weekend.” I don’t often cry reading a poem but this poem brought up a lot of buried emotion and yikes here I go again.

 

Before I hand the space over to Molly, let me thank all the assistant elves. You introduced me to poems I’d never read and locations I’ve never visited. Whether you offered an extensive commentary or just a line or two, your matching of poems with places was insightful, fun, and (to me) deeply moving. I’ve loved sharing this enterprise with you. If I know you, I love you, and if I don’t know you, I’m sure I would.

 

*

 

Some Nondescript Autumn Weekend

by Mary Ruefle

 

Remove everything beautiful from your home, remove everything you like, love, cherish, or are fond of. Remember to include pets and people. Remove everything which reminds you of these things in any way. Remove everything which brings you happiness or a feeling of peace. Remove everything which reminds you of your life.

 

Leave everything which you feel is ugly, disgusting, broken or painful. Leave everything that makes you uncomfortable when you look at it or use it. If necessary, add to these things by bringing more of them from the outside in. Make sure your home is as full as it once was and be certain everything is crummy and repulsive. Live in this space, among these things you cannot bear, for sixty days.

 

Empty the space completely. Leave nothing in it. Clean it thoroughly and wash the windows. Sleep on the floor, or on a clean thin mattress the exact dimensions of your own body. Live in this space for sixty days, during which your primary activity, when you are home, is to stare at the ceiling.

 

Bring the beautiful things back in, bring your beloved belongings, your most cherished possessions, back into the space and place them in their original positions. Make sure everything is as it was before. Live as you once did; if this is not possible, live twice.

 

 

The poem I chose is “Some Nondescript Autumn Weekend” by Mary Ruefle. I came across this poem about a year ago. Pre-quarantine, I just liked the poem and vaguely understood what it was saying about resilience and renewal and rebirth. Over the next year, I ended up sending it to dozens of friends going through different life transitions—breakups, job changes, moving cities, losing family members, just generally feeling lost. It always said what I didn’t have the words for—and that was before the pandemic. It’s all the more resonant now. I’m not sure what phase I’m in currently, but it’s nice to know where we are all headed:  living again, or even better, living twice.

 

I posted a few copies of the poem around Williamsburg, Brooklyn—on my neighborhood subway stop (for the incredible healthcare workers who are bravely heading to work each day and keeping NYC going) and in the park (for all the rest of us who are working through all the phases the poem describes, even though sometimes it feels they are playing out of order). It was fun to watch people watch me post it, wait for me to get far enough away, and then swarm to read. I hope it gave them a smile on this sunny Saturday.

 

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Two seasons and at least one ocean separate today’s guest poster, Yen-Fang Heng of Australia, from my summery poem-elf perch in northern Michigan, and yet we might as well be sitting side-by-side for how much the poem she selected belongs to every moment of my day. I do love that little birdie she drew.

 

Yen also posted “Home” by Somali-poet Warsan Shire on a community bulletin board.  It’s a much-needed addition to the global conversation about “sheltering in place.” I’ve included an animated version of the poem.

 

Thank you, Yen, for your poem selections and thoughtful commentary.

*

 

Spring (Again)

by Michael Ryan

 

The birds were louder this morning,

raucous, oblivious, tweeting their teensy bird-brains out.

It scared me, until I remembered it’s spring.

How do they know it? A stupid question.

Thank you, birdies.  I had forgotten how promise feels.

 

Here is the poem I chose because it is short and sweet and because I could illustrate it with one of my drawings!  I am afraid I do not know anything about Michael Ryan, I just came across his poem in one of the many poetry blogs, emails I subscribe to.  I googled his name and found out that he is 74 years old and taught creative writing and literature in the University of California, Irvine.  I love the words, how they are replete with the promise and the potential of spring and new beginnings.  And I love how I could accompany it with one of my sketches.  It is not spring where I am, but to me the words herald the spring ahead of us, when Covid-19 is contained, and the promises that that brings.

 

Like everyone else in the world, we are in isolation, although there has been slight easing of the lockdown in Australia.  I left this poem on the hedges in the park near where I live.  Hopefully it will survive the weather for long enough so that various people will come across it and read it and enjoy the promises of spring.

 

*

 

 

In these days of Covid-19, we are all being asked to stay home.  Juxtaposed against this backdrop are the draconian policies against refugees and asylum seekers being perpetrated by the Australian government (the country of which I am a citizen) and by numerous governments in countries that are relatively well-off.  For all those refugees, where is home?  This poem, Home, by Warsan Shire is gut-wrenching but is a timely reminder of why refugees flee:

 

‘no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear

saying-

leave,

run away from me now

I don’t know what I’ve become

but I know that anywhere

is safer than here’

 

Those of us who have homes to stay in, do we ever stop to think about what is it like not to have a home to go to?  Not to have a home to shelter in?

 

I wanted to post this on a community noticeboard near where I live.  I don’t really have an ‘inspired’ place to leave the poem, but I figured that at least on the noticeboard, it is sheltered (there’s that word again) and away from rain, and hopefully may last for a little while, so that as many people as possible will get to read these incredibly moving, incredibly realistic words.  Warsan is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London.  However, when I copied the poem onto a piece of paper, it was too long!  I realised then how much goes into the choice of a poem.

 

Home

by Warsan Shire

 

no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark

you only run for the border

when you see the whole city running as well

 

your neighbors running faster than you

breath bloody in their throats

the boy you went to school with

who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory

is holding a gun bigger than his body

you only leave home

when home won’t let you stay.

 

no one leaves home unless home chases you

fire under feet

hot blood in your belly

it’s not something you ever thought of doing

until the blade burnt threats into

your neck

and even then you carried the anthem under

your breath

only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets

sobbing as each mouthful of paper

made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

 

you have to understand,

that no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land

no one burns their palms

under trains

beneath carriages

no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck

feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled

means something more than journey.

no one crawls under fences

no one wants to be beaten

pitied

 

no one chooses refugee camps

or strip searches where your

body is left aching

or prison,

because prison is safer

than a city of fire

and one prison guard

in the night

is better than a truckload

of men who look like your father

no one could take it

no one could stomach it

no one skin would be tough enough

 

the

go home blacks

refugees

dirty immigrants

asylum seekers

sucking our country dry

niggers with their hands out

they smell strange

savage messed up their country and now they want

to mess ours up

how do the words

the dirty looks

roll off your backs

maybe because the blow is softer

than a limb torn off

 

or the words are more tender

than fourteen men between

your legs

or the insults are easier

to swallow

than rubble

than bone

than your child’s body in pieces.

 

I want to go home,

but home is the mouth of a shark

home is the barrel of the gun

and no one would leave home

unless home chased you to the shore

unless home told you

to quicken your legs

leave your clothes behind

crawl through the desert

wade through the oceans

drown

save

be hungry

beg

forget pride

your survival is more important

 

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear

saying

leave,

run away from me now

I don’t know what I’ve become

but I know that anywhere

is safer than here

 

 

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I’ve called myself Poem Elf these past ten years but the fact is I am a Faux Elf, at least where anatomy is concerned. Elves are little folk. I am not. Cue today’s guest posters Isabelle and Ava of Maryland. They are not only elf-sized, they are elf-cute and e(l)fing adorable.

 

The fact that they are also my grand nieces has no bearing on my assessment of their (darling! sweetalicious! kewpie-dumpscious!) pixie qualities.

 

*

A note from their mother, my niece and goddaughter Tricia:

We had fun poem elf-ing around our neighborhood! The girls each chose a poem from a book you gave them.

 

The funny thing was that Isabelle was scared the police would come because we have been telling the girls we aren’t allowed to go to parks right now but hopefully soon when “the Corinna virus is gone.” And the orange plastic fencing intimidated her I think. As a result, Ava went first (with no problem) and after much reassuring, Isabelle agreed to do it too. One of my girls does not like to get in trouble—the other is a little rebel!

 

Isabelle says “I love ice cream.” We chose to put it on a bench in the park two blocks from our house. When we got there, she said she really misses going there. 

 

Ava says: “I love swings!” We can’t wait to get back to our parks.

image0

 

So far Isabelle has not been arrested. Will keep you posted.

 

Isabelle and Ava, happy weekend! Thank you for helping out your old auntie!

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Today’s guest poster is my sister Ceci. Ceci is the oldest of eleven and I am number nine, so she has a history with the family that I know nothing about. For instance, I never knew a beloved book of my childhood, a book that seemed like it was part of the furniture, belonging to everyone, was originally a sweet gift to her from my dad.

 

Thanks, Ceci! The playground is all yours—

 

The Swing

by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!

 

Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,

Rivers and trees and cattle and all

Over the countryside—

 

Till I look down on the garden green,

Down on the roof so brown—

Up in the air I go flying again,

Up in the air and down!

 

 

This is not a profound poem but it reaches way back into my childhood. When I was six year old, I received “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson for Christmas.

 

My father used to have us memorize poems and I think this was the very first poem I ever memorized and I have never forgotten it. I loved the feeling of swinging up so high in the air with the wind blowing through my hair and leaning backwards to face the blue sky.

 

I recited this poem to my children when we would go to the park, and now to my grandchildren. Whenever I say it, I’m brought back to that happy place of childhood. Sadly all the parks are closed now because of Covid-19, so no more pleasant swinging  “up in the air and over the wall” for a while. I taped the poem on a pillar with yellow tape forbidding children from that glorious pastime. Hopefully this won’t last long and the swings will soon be filled with the sounds of laughter as children sail through the air on their swings.

 

 

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Post Memorial Day weekend, post family barbeques, post trips to the boardwalk and camping ground, post online shopping for holiday sales—post fun, in other words— let’s ruminate on loss. It’s what we were supposed to be doing anyway.

 

Yep, there goes my inner Debbie Downer. She rears her gray head often these pandemic times.

 

Fortunately for you, today’s guest poem elf, Patti Russo of Indiana, is the opposite of Debbie Downer (whoever that may be—Bettie Buoyant? Cherrie Cheerful?) even as she takes up a difficult subject. Patti has paired two poems to consider loss and life after loss, and writes with an empathy and perspective that really does bring light to the darkness. Thanks, Patti!

 

*

 

Thanks so much for allowing me the privilege of being an honorary Assistant to the Regional Poem Elf “on location” here in beautiful Bloomington, IN! I chose these two poems, which I clipped from our Sunday paper months ago. I’ve had them taped to our kitchen cupboards ever since! I love them both for so many reasons.

 

 

 

The Thing Is

by Ellen Bass

 

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

 

 

This poem talks about learning to love life again after a tremendous loss. . . and in this case, death. By now, most of us have likely experienced a significant death/loss in our lives. . . I know I have. After losing my Dad, then a few years later, my older sister, it was, for a time, difficult to remember that I could still allow myself to love life even in the midst of my sorrow.

 

Sadly, I’ve also witnessed several dear friends who have experienced the MOST unimaginable loss: the loss of their child. I have watched as each moved through the grieving process into his/her eventual healing. . . it is long, painful & arduous journey. It is a beautiful thing to witness someone who has lost SO deeply, and yet has the courage and grace to learn to love the world again. . . only differently now, as a person who will never again feel completely whole. I am both in awe of and humbled by their willingness to take a chance on love and life again. . . to “hold life like a face between your palms. . . and say, yes, I will take you. I will love you, again.”

 

I placed this poem on a soon-to-bloom peony bush just inside the entrance to Rose Hill cemetery. . . just a few blocks from our home.

 

*

 

 

Origami

by Joyce Sutphen

 

It starts

with a blank sheet,

an undanced floor,

 

air where no sound

erases the silence.

As soon as

 

you play the first note,

write down a word,

step onto the empty stage,

 

you’ve moved closer

to the creature inside.

Remember—

 

a square

can end up as frog, cardinal,

mantis, or fish.

 

You can make

what you want,

do what you wish.

 

This poem speaks so beautifully to the possibilities before each of us despite the challenges life thrusts before us. . . yes, even a pandemic. I love the notion that each of us is “a blank sheet, an undanced floor, air where no sound erases the silence” and it is up to us to “make what you want, do what you wish” in order to come closer “to the creature inside.” We are a blank slate, a flat, shapeless piece of paper that we need to fold into being. It is empowering to know that each of us has the capacity to “will” ourselves into becoming the person we were meant to be.

 

I placed this poem, along with an origami paper crane, in a beautiful planter of pansies just inside Sample Gates, the official entrance to Indiana University. Coincidentally, clusters of Indiana University graduates, in full cap & gown, bursting with promise & possibility, were taking photos with family & friends when I arrived.

 

Just one addendum to “Origami”: I meant to note that those graduates did not march across the stage to receive their diplomas. . . there was no fanfare, pomp or circumstance. Like everything else in the age of COVID19, milestones big and small are diminished to a rather anti-climactic virtual tribute. Still, there they were. . . laughing, celebrating, pondering the possibilities for their lives. . . possibilities which remain limitless even in the face a global pandemic.

 

 

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All the way from Prague, my youngest daughter Anne Marie spreads the Poem Elf spirit. As you can see, she loves her adopted city; as you can’t see and wouldn’t know, she also loves the word “romantic.” (See her commentary.) We have a running family joke about an awkward card she gave me as years ago in which she wrote about our “fun romantic times together.” (She thought romantic referred to affection and snuggling.) Her understanding of the word has since righted itself, but her chosen street and poem remind me of her open heart, how much I miss her, away now for so long.

Anne Marie notes that František Halas is a Czech poet from a working class family (1901-1949). Short life. I hope he got the love he dreamed of.

 

Confession
by František Halas

Touched by all that love is
I draw closer toward you
Saddened by all that love is
I run from you

Surprised by all that love is
I remain alert in stillness
Hurt by all that love is
I yearn for tenderness

Defeated by all that love is
at the truthful mouth of the night
Forsaken by all that love is
I will grow toward you.

 

 

This is one of my favorite streets in Prague—it’s romantic and exciting and I can’t wait to show it to everyone I love at some point in my life. I always see couples sitting here, so I picked a love poem by a Czech poet. I can’t choose which line grabs me the most because it all rings true in a simple, retrospective way. “Surprised by all that love is I remain alert in stillness” is where I stand now, wondering who it is I’ll bring here.

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It’s graduation day here at Poem Elf! Our guest poster, Chicago writer and editor Bridget Gamble, chose Dean Young’s “Commencement” to celebrate.

 

Unlike Bridget, I am not a lover of graduation speeches, having sat through more than my fair share of follow-your-dreams and follow-this-bit-of-whimsical-advice exhortations.

 

But I do share her heartbreak for the millions of graduates denied ceremonies this year. Thanks, Bridget, for a timely reminder.

 

[NOTE:  If you enjoy Bridget’s writing as much as I do, you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter whelmed at www.bridgetgamble.com.]

 

And now to the podium, Ms. Gamble  . . .

 

*

 

 

Commencement

by Dean Young

 

I love you for shattering.

Someone has to. Just as someone

has to announce inadvertently

the end of grief or spring’s

splurge even as the bureaucracy’s

spittoon overflows. Someone has to come out

the other end of the labyrinth

saying, What’s the big deal?

Someone has to spend all day staring

at the data from outer space

or separating the receipts

or changing sheets in sour room after room.

I like it when the end of the toilet paper

is folded into a point.

I like napkins folded into swans

because I like wiping my mouth on swans.

Matriculates, come back from the dance floor

to sip at the lacrimal glands of chaos,

a god could be forgiven

for eating you, you’ve been such angels

just not very good ones.

You’ve put your tongue

into the peanut canister

of your best friend’s girlfriend’s mom.

You’ve taken a brown bag lunch

on which was writ another’s name.

All night it snows a blue snow

like the crystallized confessions

you’ve wrung from phantoms

even though it is you wearing the filched necklace,

your rages splitting the concrete like dandelions.

All that destruction from a ball of fluff!

There’s nothing left but hope.

 

 

I’ve been thinking about all the graduation ceremonies that won’t be happening this spring, and all the speeches that will never be. I may be in the minority, but I really love commencement speeches. I get goose bumps just reading them online. When my poetry professor in college, Danny Khalastchi, read this Dean Young poem to my class at the end of the spring semester during my junior year, it felt just as special to me as an actual commencement address. The opening line doesn’t seem to belong in a poem; it’s too risky, too cliché. But Dean gets away with it when he makes you laugh with lines about toilet paper and peanut canisters and not very good angels. Then suddenly, that last line—another one that only Dean Young can make feel fresh—knocks the wind out of you completely, just like you’d hope a commencement speech would.

 

Because I live near DePaul’s campus, I thought that was a good home for this poem. On a socially distant walk with my friend Casey, one of my best friends from college, we passed a stoplight that has an “I Closed Wolski’s” sticker on it. Wolski’s is a Milwaukee bar that we fell in love with (and managed to close once or twice) as college kids. So Dean’s poem belonged there, I knew. My wish is that someone experiencing grief in this pandemic—about a canceled graduation, or about anything—stumbles on it when they’re waiting for the walk signal, and feels some hope. Someone has to, right?

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A young man. . . springtime. . . Rilke. . . . . doesn’t that sound hopeful, Romantic, free? Can you remember that time in your own life? That feeling of life-is-just-beginning and anything-can-happen? Can you remember, in the days before young people were cooped up and stalled out in their apartments, the joy of seeing someone busting with that energy?

 

Today’s guest poster, Pat Duggan of Pittsburgh, brings that moment to the forefront. Duggan posted an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Go to the Limits of Your Longing.” I’ll post the poem in its entirety below the pictures.

 

Thanks, Pat! (And I really like the poemelf.com you put at the bottom of the paper. . . )

 

 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

 

 

Go to the Limits of Your Longing

by Rainer Maria Rilke

 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

 

These are the words we dimly hear:

 

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

 

Flare up like a flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

 

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

 

Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.

 

Give me your hand.

 

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