We, in the grappling nights
we fall from nearness to nearness
and where the woman in love sweetly thaws,
we are a plunging stone.
Muzot, February 9, 1922

I am drinking tepid water and sweating, listening to Ira Glass. Well, a few minutes ago I was, but have turned the volume down. The book from which the above poem comes is one that I bought more than a year ago and seldom perused, bought as an inspiration from my friend Evonne, who adores Rainer Maria Rilke. The book has the German version on the left and the English on the right and sometimes I stop and try to pronounce the left page, since it exercises my mouth in ways that my normal endless jabbering can not accomplish.

I have taken a little German, a little Spanish, and a little French, but only enough so as to fulfil the course, only enough that I can pronounce bumper stickers or menus in their native tongue. My own ability to communicate in my own language has been equally scattered, and I seldom know what words to use, seldom know what it is I want to say.


Others carry the wine, others carry the oil
in the hollowed vault their partition circumscribed.
I, as a smaller measure, and as the slimmest, hollow myself
for a different need, for the sake of plummeting tears.

Wine grows richer, and oil grows ever clearer in the jug.
What happens with tears?---They made me heavy,
made me blinder and made me iridescent at the edge,
made me brittle and made me empty.
Schoneck, September 16, 1923

I feel like an aquarium that has been neglected, whose sides are slick with dying algae and fish shit, whose neon coral is covered with a green film, the sad scene of any forgotten submarine, down in the places where the water doesn't move. And now that aquarium has been emptied, cleaned and scrubbed with bleach, dried softly with dishtowels and slid upon a high shelf in the attic. The boy who tended the aquarium has long since been absent, and there are no more boys for fish at this time. My heart wants to be a clear, glass box.

Even if it will not be in truth, ever so simple, even if it is a futile dream, tonight it feels good to believe that it could be true for a moment. I feel reduced, smaller, shrinking inside myself, empty and pleasantly so.

My hair is growing in and it no longer has that newness like when it was newly shorn, when it was brisk baby fuzz like stubble. My face is clearing up from a week of hormones, circles of dead skin around every tiny wound. My heart is empty.

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