And the great cities, Lord, what are they?
Places disintegrating and abandoned.
The city I know resembles animals fleeing from a fire.
The shelter it gave has no shelter now,
and the age of the cities is nearly over.
Men and women live there, stunned, thinned out,
in darkened rooms, afraid of any human gesture,
more fearful than a heard of yearling steers.
Your earth opens its eyes and breathes,
but they are no longer aware of the breathing.
A child lives its growing years at a windowsill.
The shadow makes the same angle there each day.
It doesn't realize that there are wild roses calling
to a day of open places, gaiety and wind.
It has to be a child and becomes a sad child.
And young women blossom upward toward the unknown
and feel a longing for the peace of childhood;
what they are burning for, however, is not in the world
and their body trembles as they close themselves once more.
And the disappointed years of being a mother
go by in apartments out of the light.
Night after night they have no will and weep,
cold years go by with no power and no real battle.
The deathbed waits in a still darker room,
and they wish themselves slowly slowly into it,
and they take a long time to die, as if in chains,
and die still dependent on others, as beggars are.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, 1900
I awoke with a start in the middle of the night to the sound of a child screaming.
My blood curdled -
This was not a scream of hunger or fatigue,
But the sort of terror that might only exist on the streets of war
During a suicide bomb,
Or in the black alleys of Harlem at two in the morning.
I got up and peeked through the blinds on the back of my building.
I thought I saw a person crouching sinisterly in the darkness of my neighbor's garden,
But the person did not move, and
I decided it was just a bush.
I saw nothing,
But I walked to my bedroom door and locked it anyway,
For the screams were gone but their aftermath lingered,
And frightened me to the marrow.
I want to move to a big house in the middle of the country,
Where I can look out from the frame of my front door
And see nothing
But land and trees and sky for miles.
It would be quiet there.
And I could write and be connected to the earth
And I could play music.
It would be nice to be near a town,
So I could gather with other artists and feel a sense of community,
A common purpose.
I want to travel the world.
And then I want to live free in the open air and the sunlight and the rain.
I want to make love on our porch.
I will look to the sky and say, "Do you hear that?"
And you will say, "What?"
And I will say, "There's a storm rollin' in."
And you will say:
"Drown it out."