Evening Poetry, August 18

You can find this in The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I,6

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, God, who live next door–

If at times, through the long night, I trouble you

with my urgent knocking–

this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom.

I know you’re all alone in that room.

If you should be thirsty, there’s no one

to get you a glass of water.

I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign!

I’m right here.

As it happens, the wall between us

is very thin. Why couldn’t a cry

from one of us

break it down? It would crumble

easily.

it would barely make a sound.

Evening Poetry, August 17

The Waterwheel

by Rumi

Stay together, friends,

Don’t scatter and sleep,

Our friendship is made

of being awake.

The waterwheel accepts water

and turns and gives it away,

weeping.

That way it stays in the garden,

whereas another roundness rolls

through a dry riverbed looking

for what it thinks it wants.

Stay here, quivering with each moment

like a drop of mercury.

You can find this in the collection The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, August 15

II. Love: VII.

by Emily Dickinson

Wild nights! Wild nights!

Were I with thee,

Wild nights should be

Our luxury!

Futile the winds

To a heart in port,–

Done with the compass,

Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!

Ah! the sea!

Might I but moor

To-night in thee!

You can find this in the collection Hope is the Thing With Feathers.

Evening Poetry, August 14

(Happy Birthday to my daughter, Ella, who is 16 today!)

The Birthday Child

by Rose Fyleman

Everything’s been different

All the day long,

Lovely things have happened,

Nothing has gone wrong.

Nobody has scolded me,

Everyone has smiled,

Isn’t it delicious

To be a birthday child?

You can find this poem in the collection Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, August 11

The Work of Happiness

by May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems 1930-1993.

Evening Poetry, August 10

Everything Is Waiting For You

(After Derek Mahon)

by David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

You can find this poem in the collection Everything is Waiting for You.

Evening Poetry, August 2

August Morning

by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon 
by our sink. Yellow, 
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes 
the house too sweetly. 
At five I wake, the air 
mournful in its quiet. 
My wife’s eyes swim calmly 
under their lids, her mouth and jaw 
relaxed, different. 
What is happening in the silence 
of this house? Curtains 
hang heavily from their rods. 
Ficus leaves tremble 
at my footsteps. Yet 
the colors outside are perfect– 
orange geranium, blue lobelia. 
I wander from room to room 
like a man in a museum: 
wife, children, books, flowers, 
melon. Such still air. Soon 
the mid-morning breeze will float in 
like tepid water, then hot. 
How do I start this day, 
I who am unsure 
of how my life has happened 
or how to proceed 
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

You can find this poem in Skunk Talk by Albert Garcia.