Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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But the deadly and the violent days,
how do you undergo them, take them in?
— Rainer Maria Rilke
When we can’t speak, I follow you
to the dried-up pond:
bowl of what was once a pond,
floor of straw pressed into mud,
lines on an ancient palm which cups us,
reeds and grasses at its edges
swaying toward us through noon heat —
heat like another skin which holds us,
bound and faintly glistening,
as if we contained the disappeared water.
We bend to touch the bottoms
of the broken stalks,
every tiny torn-down room,
every place the grass is flattened,
where the deer have lain;
we trace their vanished bodies with our hands.
Ruth L. Schwartz