Sunday, April 22, 2007

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #49

Galway Kinnell is a very Catholic, and catholic, poet. I am growing to love his poetry because it seems to always be about the stuff that really matters: faith, family, friends, human suffering and loneliness, and... God. His is a very sacramental poetry. He speaks unabashedly of death, of dirt, of sights and smells, of skin, of sex. Rather than shy away from the puzzle of our existence here, he embraces it in its totality. I love the large, looming presence of family life in almost everything he writes. And, even now in his 70's, the distinguished poet still writes lovingly about his children, remembering when they were young and appreciating them now that they're older. I like that.

Here is a wise and wonderful poem about nothing less than the mystery of life itself. See what you might hear in it.



Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

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