Poetry

Love After Love

By Derek Walcott


The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.

 

On hospitality: A reply to Rumi

By Amy Newell


Welcome all the visitors, you say.

Do not put bars on the windows or locks on the doors.

Do not close up the chimney flue. Duct tape and plastic sheeting

will not keep the visitors at bay. They'll pound on the doors,

they'll break your windows, they'll breach the barricades,

they'll storm the beach, swarm in like ants through cracks.

They'll leak like water through the walls, and creep like mice,

and curl like smoke and crack like ice against the window glass.

Keep them out? It can't be done, don't try.

Welcome all the visitors. Fine.

There's all kinds of welcoming, however.

I do not have to throw a house party.

I will not post flyers.

There will be no open bar.

No one will get drunk

and lock themselves in the bathroom.

No one will break furniture,

grind chips into the rug,

throw anyone else in the pool,

or lose an earring in the couch.

I do not have to run a guest house, either.

There will be no crackling fire.

And no easy chairs.

I will not serve tea to the visitors.

I will not dispense ginger snaps and ask my guests

about themselves: Did my mother send you ?

Why must you plague me? Why not stay a while longer?

Who are you, really?

If I must welcome – and I'm convinced I must – let me build

a great hall to receive my guests. Like a Greek temple,

let it be open on all sides. Let it be wide, and bright, and empty.

Let it have a marble floor: beautiful – and cold, and hard.

Let there be no sofas, no benches, no dark corners, no anterooms

and no coat closets. No walls, not even a ledge to lean against.

I'll welcome anyone who comes, I'll show them my enormous empty hall.

Come in, come in, I'll say. I'll even smile, perhaps make conversation for a while.

And if someone settles on the floor, as if to stay, or circles round and round,

as if they've lost their way, I'll be kind, extend my hand,

and gently show them out again.

 

The Guest House

By Rumi


This being human is a guest-house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

From “The Essential Rumi”, translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, 1995

 

Letting Go

By Stewart Mercer


 

Letting go, in order to let in

releasing, in order to receive

nature’s coded messages become clearer

the less we try to see.

Trying hard, trying harder and harder

trying so very hard

is not the way.

We need commitment, yes

and focus

and hope and faith and trust

but most of all we need ease

a discipline of ease

not trying too hard at all.

You see “trying hard” has a cell-mate

called “giving up”, admitting defeat

like black and white

like pushing and pulling

no peace there.

“Not yet”, you say

“I’m not ready yet

to take the step beyond.”

I know

I’ve stepped so slow myself,

still do

but love sweet sister,

like death

comes in a moment’s heartbeat

then goes.

There are no ways to hold

except by letting go, and

letting it be a part of you

and you of it.