Here are my favorite lines from Carl Adamshick’s poem “The Emptiness” (I believe it’s taken from his book Curses and Wishes: Poems (think I found it in either The Seashell Anthology or Good Poems for Hard Times ??)–or maybe A Book of Luminous Things –Czeslaw Milosz (my favorite anthology of poetry of all-time :
“…the forked branch of my existence
was lit like a crack
My breath, my tongue, the broken font
of my voice had wanted to praise.
And when I didn’t speak
I became a secret, a testimony
against my own body. I lived
with the fact that I watched others
struggle and pray.
I watched them lie on the shore
with their heads adrift in a shine if stars
and wanted their hunger
to finally consume their sad,
I watched, hoping
when the tide came and lifted them away
I could live without shame.
The emptiness. The tongue bound
to the betrayal held in the mouth,
to the apology held
in the mouth, to the brutal remains
held in the socket of the mouth.
And still, under it all,
I feel an orchid, the cold river flow
around my feet. I see the stars
as the shimmering bones
Of migratory birds
and swallow the humiliating taste
of beauty. I am the dirt,
the worm-dirge, the lament and procession
winding through a garden burning
I am not the body that dies naked,
swollen and torn,
infested with beetles.
I am not the body that lacks
the funeral and its offering of plums.
I am not the body,
the empty midnight station.
I am not the bombed-out factory…
…I am the severed hands of a war
and feel it escape into me like a tired lover
I am comfort into the dark hours,
where my body, swathed with heat
and sorrow, listens to air
pass through the gate of its teeth.
…When light around the field is spilt moon
and memory is a nest
of mud and grass hidden in the bright
when emptiness is an open door,
the well-black pupil of an iris.
I am lost in the living, in the acceptance
of rain filling a bucket,
in the belief
that the chemical burn was a washing
for the exodus
and the smoke rising through
into the pale-blue morning was
a love song.
There are days when I wake
and find my face is a hole
and I have nowhere to hang my