Rilke Series No’s 38, 39, 40


You, yesterday’s boy,
Spoke when I woke, split

Open. Leave me alone.
Go back. Let me get back

to God—

I don’t care. How to pray,
chant her pain—Remember,

the pine. In this city
Nothing circles me. Her belly,
body, want You. Not him

I want—I don’t. But want
Wakes in the morning
Saying Nothing with its tongue.

Staring—the boy, scared.


Now, pray
Santiago said, broke bones
Of the mare. His hands understood

How to keep love inside—
Carry, chant burdens

Guapa, go.
Inside mountain-mouth,
Whatever tongue there,

Speak. Nothing. Know—
Heart twists like this.

But I, a child, wanted—What.
Gut the Eye, God. How do I

know. Now—
There’s just me. This need.


I have hymns you haven’t heard.

In mouths I haven’t known, I have
A child, learning to chant—

Nothing has its tongue in you,
Guapa. Keep love inside—

Like this. The city swells
Blue twists against her belly.

The subway takes me, strange,
Her gait, to strangers. He tells me

There’s a sanctuary. His hands

Gut a tomato—how do I know
If he knows how to pray. Say

You know this child. Speak

To her. You’re God.


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