- Izumi Shikibu, in The Ink Dark Moon, translated by Jane Hirshfield (via growing-orbits)
Not deepest grief,
Nothing can help you
Maybe, but not now.
Now you are unreachable,
Alone with all that was
Awry between you.
Alone with what was said
and not said.
Saying it all
Now freely confessing
What you withheld then,
Admitting what you denied
Only a short while ago.
How obvious that you
Were often wrong and unkind.
Aware of all the good
Deeds you intended
That remained undone.
Aware of all the good
That Death has undone.
— Gregory Orr, in Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved
The Untrustworthy Speaker
Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.
I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
That’s when I’m least to be trusted.
It’s very sad, really: all my life I’ve been praised
For my intelligence, my posers of language, of insight–
In the end they’re wasted–
I never see myself,
Standing on the front steps. Holding my sisters hand.
That’s why I can’t account
For the bruises on her arm where the sleeve ends…
In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless.
We’re the cripples, the liars:
We’re the ones who should be factored out
In the interest of truth.
When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers,
Underneath, a little gray house. The azaleas
Read and bright pink.
If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
To the older sister, block her out:
When a living thing is hurt like that
In its deepest workings,
All function is altered.
That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
Is also a wound to the mind.
— Louise Glück, in Ararat
The Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapanta, Romania is famous for its bright, colorful and very honest tombstones. There are over 600 wooden crosses in the cemetery that bear the life stories and even the dirty details of the deceased. Most of us are used to seeing tombstones, with a name, date of birth, death and a “Rest In Peace” wish. In the Merry Cemetery you can expect to see clever limericks and stories of anyone who has ever died in the village of Sapanta.
One of the more popular tombstones was for a man named Ion Toaderu, he was known as the town drunk. His tombstone reads, “Ioan Toaderu loved horses. One more thing he loved very much. To sit at a table in a bar. Next to someone else’s wife.” The epitaph reads “real poison” while the painting depicts a black skeleton dragging him down as he drinks from a bottle.
"The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother."
by Farzaneh Khojandi
What does exile taste like, my darling,
what is it to know loneliness?
To know the sun’s loneliness in the empty sky,
to know a reflection’s loneliness inside the mirror frame,
to know the heart’s loneliness in the breast.
Life pulls us
towards an alley where drifts of snow fall on us.
Path after path leads through
a mocking hall of mirrors.
Feet will forget the melody of stroll,
Hands will no longer hear blood bubbling
through narrow veins.
And hearts, O our hearts, will be so weak love leaks away -
or not - I do not know. But I do know, my love,
there is a way back - through memory’s mirror.
I reach for the chapter of simple miracles:
the spring was heavenly silk when you first said,
'Hello my little sister.'
Behind my teenage front lived a baby - a thousand-year-old pupil.
Later, your letters flooded my dark eyes with light:
those letters were the gnosis of Persian poetry.
Years later, the nightingales of Moscow
heard the Epic of the Kings from your tongue
and envied the phoenix.
Soaring tuse trees on the verges
saluted the poet Hafez’s flowing cypresses,
the chime of church bells
was the tinkle of camel-bells of the poet Sa’di’s caravan.
The caravan has gone - lost in desert dust.
And now, O camel-driver, carrier of loneliness, O my brother,
what does separation taste like?
In this world are scattered letters
that spell out loud and clear - this:
Wait, my darling, spring will come …