Sunday, October 15, 2006

sometimes in the night

Once in a blue moon, Churchill's black dog appears unheralded and sits on my chest through the small hours. When it happened last night I thought of these lines from Rilke - a poet I've been looking at in a desultory fashion since I was reading The Time Traveler's Wife, a book that is drenched with him.
You, neighbour God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.

They stand before you hiding you like names,
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Try it on your black dog next time you have a day in which, if you were a character from the Time Traveler's Wife, you'd be Ingrid.

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