VOICES – VOICES
Like the poet, Rilke, with each breath taken, I have heard
and half heard the angels calling out from the depths;
–– let them speak, as the whisperings of holy messengers,
in the unfathomable nighttime before dawn, upon the air,
in a quickening of flesh.
These are the forgotten memories we may all one day
recall, more often then we suspect, subtle and obscure,
–– traveling on countless pathways of neural light,
crossing our thoughts with distant remembrances that arise
out of the silence of the saints. These are the voices I
heard once before,
–– in a church north of Pienza, when we travelled in Italy,
where lighting a candle and bowing her head, Joanne
offered with a sad smile and a small hope, prayers for
a close friend, who was ill at the time,
–– struggling in life, and in death, as we all do.
In every church and chapel, we entered that journey,
she repeated the ritual, and in each one, I heard, the
same order of murmuring voices.
Not that I could understand their musings, far from it,
since they spoke only in hushed tones, in the ineffable and
intangible –– tongues of angels and heaven.
Verse after verse, follows each breath we breathe; they flow
in as a chorus; every word coming quickly, expressed ever
so faintly, not always distinct.
Flowing sinuously over the body like soft fallen rain,
running over the earth and washing away.
And then they return in a shower of lyrics, in a moment, or
even years later, each word rushing in with such a haste,
anxiously waiting in expectation to take its place.
Out of this silence the poet within conceives unknown –
unheard languages of the spirit, new words and verses
flowing out unhindered as a blessing.
Encompassing the wonder of life, from the waters of
Mnemosyne that pour forth,
–– let the memories speak.
Each poet writes in their own angelic tongue, and
humankind listens, or they do not. Do you?
Sometimes, the angels speak too fast, and they are rarely
kind or generous in their time. We cannot write the words
down, quickly –– enough.
–– Something is always left unwritten.
Words and images, thought after thought, come and
go on –– it all overflows, and you can never know what the
angels may honestly want you to write,
–– since they do not speak plainly.
You must seek the beloved; only she can translate
such language as a muse, and something more dwelling
It is truly unexpected, how even the stars fall
silent in her presence.
One day soon, we will all become fluent
–– in her angelic tongue.
Here, I am with my
begging bowl in hand,
that only I can see.
I am in the heart of Manhattan,
dressed in a Canali double breasted suit
walking from St. Bart’s to the
Waldorf, it’s only one block and
a world away from home. A young
lady passes by, smiles and that is all it
takes you know, one solitary smile, and
my begging bowl is full once more.
Such riches come rarely, such joy
is known as Shantideva teaches, by
wishing joy to others first. Did you know?
That a single smile, like this one, can
save ten thousand worlds, across ten
thousand universes, as if the first light
of creation has turned back upon the world.
from “When Angels Are Born”