Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In Memory of Rilke

I leave a note that allows no ambiguity:
"I am traveling within, with your blessings.
Off to distant domains, old Friend."

I am thinking of You as though from a garden, comrade.
And I enter the second and final stage of my life
as I would end a painful letter that showed how far,
for the moment, I have gotten.

Or, how far I have not gotten on this ache-filled journey.

Now I have already been in my room a few hours;
I feel as though You were still here,
as if I could see You:
and I believe that for me it will remain so.
My dearest person, dear old Friend.

I have now left You behind in some distant realm.
In the mountains we still shared
a few common paths that were beautiful.
I was too impatient to remain without thoughts of You.

Whatever the reason, I am traveling
way back in time:
to the stand-up desk, to the quiet isolation,
back to the Elegy of Lost Friendship.

Look, we do not love as flowers do,
Rilke said,
in a single year; when we love, a sap
immemorial rises in our arms . . .

Now the friends in this Elegy are more than
two hearts and bodies,
yet betraying one another as they had been
in the first passages I composed in my room.

They were now dissected, explored,
their psyches revealed.

After the long hiatus of wandering --
after Venice, the canals, the earthquake of passion,
a loud passion in the thicket --
I have assayed our Friendship through
a psychoanalytic prism
and find that the "immemorial sap"
strikes me like a biblical message.

Neptune, the river god
with whom I had begun this Elegy months before,
has now been tamed through understanding.

Lead him out close to the garden. . . .
Restrain him.

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