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Archive for September, 2008

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
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At the midpoint of our life’s journey
I found myself lost in a dark forest
with no clear path I could see anywhere.
Ah, how very hard it is even to name
that forest, so dreadful and dense and wild
that just mentioning it brings back all my terror!
So bitter it is that death is hardly worse.

My guide and I, on that hidden pathway,
began our return toward the bright outer world,
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She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

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Portrait of Rilke by Paula Modersohn-Becker

Before Sigmund Freud ever founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology, before he ever published his first book on the unconscious, writers and storytellers were trying to understand the psychology of the human mind. How else could they create character development in their stories and poems?

Psychology was an interest of the Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). In 1897 he met and fell in love with writer Lou Andreas-Salome, who trained with Freud. After Rilke’s separation from her in 1900, they remained friends for the rest of his life.

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Onyx

No one has to tell me what I don’t have.
I’ve tried to love others before you.

Now beneath the mind’s dark luster, its
vigilance, its layering of words
like tar over the heart, a weakness

has spread. There is palsy and
bleeding, your brow and shoulders
no longer beneath my hand

and nowhere to put this impossible tenderness.

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Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

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“The gift is the desire, the will to follow your dreams, to take the risk. That’s the thing I feel blessed with.” Alison Sydor (Olympic Silver medalist)

I’ve always wanted to be an elite athlete. I once wrote profiles and features on women Olympic athletes for a sports magazine. The Canadian mountain-biker Alison Sydor said this to me while we were eating sushi in a restaurant one night in Victoria, B.C. I’ve never forgotten it. She had been told when she first started racing she didn’t have the VO2 max and physical gifts to be a mountain-bike racer. Try another sport.

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