—Katy Brown, Davis
These churches are a paradox in stone
with light distilled to elevate the soul,
and incense climbing shadows like a ghost.
Scalloped stairs are worn from pilgrims’ tread,
the scent of lilies heavy in the air:
the paradox of churches made of stone,
filled with light to elevate the soul.
Rock and light and pilgrims seeking God;
aves rise and echo in the halls.
Shadowed figures round the cloistered walks.
These churches are a paradox in stone:
fractured light illuminates the dark
and aves climb the shadows like a soul.
—Marie J. Ross, Stockton
Was she the reflection
in its onyx breath?
Did her smiles curve downward,
and burning questions?
Did she live in valleys of destruction,
where green withered
from her many tears?
Each inhalation taken
choked the atmosphere of her search.
Each road wound on paths
she envisioned of herself.
Where was the sky of inner storm
to enrage her unwanted reflection?
Exhalation retrieved the sun…
each ray refreshing her skin,
as air infused
with a smokeless fire and fulfilling glow.
Destruction turned to renewal,
her thoughts reached through the haze…
An onyx breath enlivened by light.
ON THE TRANSITORY
—Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)
My cheeks still feel their breath: how can it be
That these most recent days, these days just past,
Are gone, forever gone, gone totally.
Here is a thing no one can wholly grasp,
Too terrible for tears or for complaint:
That all goes by, that all goes flowing past,
And that this Self of mine, all unconstrained,
Came gliding straight to me from a small child,
Came like a dog uncanny mute and strange,
And: that a hundred years ago, I was,
And my ancestors in their death-shrouds are
As close to me as my own hair is close,
As much a part of me as my own hair.
(trans. from the German by Naomi Replansky)
TWILIGHT OF THE OUTWARD LIFE
—Hugo von Hofmannsthal
And children still grow up with longing eyes,
That know of nothing, still grow tall and perish,
And no new traveler treads a better way;
And fruits grow ripe and delicate to cherish
And still shall fall like dead birds from the skies,
And where they fell grow rotten in a day.
And still we feel cool winds on limbs still glowing,
That shudder westward; and we turn to say
Words, and we hear words; and cool winds are blowing
Our wilted hands through autumns of unclutching.
What use is all our tampering and touching?
Why laughter, that must soon turn pale and cry?
Who quarantined our lives in separate homes?
Our souls are trapped in lofts without a skylight;
We argue with a padlock till we die
In games we never meant to play for keeps.
And yet how much we say in saying: "twilight,"
A word from which man's grief and wisdom seeps
Like heavy honey out of swollen combs.
(trans. by Peter Viereck)
—Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Water pours down in order to swallow us,
Rocks are rolling to smash us,
Shortly on their powerful wings
Birds will come to carry us off.
However beneath us there is a country;
Fruit is always reflected
In its ageless waters.
Marble foreheads and lips of springs
Rise from the flowery acres,
And the easy winds blow.
(trans. by Robert Bly)
Bombarded by dwelling newness
the kangaroo rat nap takes
as dirt is pushed by machine
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA