mantra review

Summer 2018


after Rilke


I cycle aimlessly through
years, spiraling outward
in desolate arcs, whose
vacancy swallows all things.
Each revolution could outlast
me, yet, I follow a fated path,
orbit grave matter, circle
a hidden object—futile
ecliptic. And wait to know
my purpose: A winged bird,
swift wind, or soaring aria.


If the smallest part of me
fractures, it too must conform
to the laws of gravity— sure
as the wind off the sea, lifting
every seed, every berry, drawing
each to the center of itself.
Everything exists in a holding
pattern, every rock, every flower,
even midnight’s timid child.
Only we—conceited—exempt
ourselves; reach beyond, grasping
the freedom of empty space,
sacrificing wisdom to rise up,
treelike and haughty-limbed,
while those on the verges
rest contentedly with inertial
heaviness. But whoever scorns
those bounds is suddenly,
indescribably alone.
Learn from these vestiges
to begin again—children
entrusting themselves to god,
never again to part.
Learn again to fall; Held
in gravid repose which
gathers every remnant back
to wholeness—even feathers,
loosed in rebellious flight.


It is no surprise—the fury
of the storm. A vanguard
of mounting thunderheads
drive the trees before them.
Their flight floods the avenues—
a retreat from the wrath, which
urges you toward it. Senses
charged, you sing its power
as you watch at a window.
The weeks of summer hesitate
and blood, rising in the trees,
alters course—returns
to the source of all things.
You have misunderstood it.
As you grasp its fruit, it turns
to riddles in your hand,
you become a stranger.
The summer was a house, all
things in their proper place.
But you must leave it now—
your heart—for uncharted
planes. A great isolation
begins. Days go numb,
your senses windswept—
parched as withered grass.
Through empty branches,
the sky. It is all you have.
Be earth and evensong
and the ground from which
we all rise. Be humble— a
thing yielding to the touch,
so that he who tended you
will know your ripeness and
gather you up in the harvest.

Christine Darragh is a hand-bookbinder working and writing from her home studio in Ann Arbor, MI. Her work has previously been published in Structo, Topology, Twyckenham Notes, Typishly and Cloud Women's Quarterly.

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