YOU WHO NEVER ARRIVED
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
I fondly remember being introduced to the poetry of Rilke by a bruiting man with dark and wild hair who loved the written word, creating things crudely with his hands, and being swept up all of the beautiful and destructive things that art can mimic. We didn't know each other for long and, like the unpredictable changing of the tide, left almost as soon as he had entered by life. But, among our brief moments together, he recited You Who Never Arrived to me from memory in some strange moment of passion—and being so moved by it, I hunted it down the following day and committed it to writing in my notebook—something I carry around with me as a constant companion. And since then I've written it in almost every notebook that I've kept—it's a text I continue returning to—in an attempt to continue unraveling it. And even though it was something that was still revealing itself to me, pedal by pedal, it's a text I wanted to set to music—to try and understand through music—but the problem with amazing poetry is that it's already music all on its own. It already has a rhythm, set cadences, and a way of presenting itself on the page—who was I to disturb that—? After a few attempts that were started and left incomplete, I abandoned it, hoping that one day I would eventually return to it—it wasn't the right time.