I heard the sound of waves breaking,
somewhere in the darkness.
Do you remember?
that tender scale repeating.
Nanae Haruno, from Pietà, first published in Young You (Shueisha, April 1998 - October 1999)
“There are sufferings that have lost their memory
and do not remember why they are suffering.”
Antonio Porchia, from Voices, trans. W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press, 2003)
A quartet of pelicans like a measure of music in flight,
every wave crashing keeps the impossible rhythm:
erosion and decay under blue sky. Fog creeps closer
to the coast, reminds me something’s always about to happen,
every moment becoming a past we water down
with each retelling, every place another home
we can’t return to. Times like now, I don’t know why
I bother writing any of it down—there is no line
between sea and sky, no telling when flow turns to ebb.
Everything passes imperceptibly enough to be missed,
unspeakably missed, the way our every breath becomes
the air itself. Every winter the sand’s stripped away
by surging storms, brought back bit by bit, the sculpted rocks,
unrecognizable month to month. And yet, every year
the snowy plovers return, their song never drowned out
by the surf, this language of give and take, language of grief.
Brian Simoneau, “North of Stinson Beach,” River Bound (C & R Press, 2014)
Thea Curtis, Untitled, 2010
We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”
—T. S. Eliot, from The Cocktail Party (Mariner Books, 1964)
My memory is like a steel-toothed trap
and my memories like bewildered animals
lured from the thick of the forest
by strong scents and caught here now
howling and bitten with regret
for all their innocence, their stupidity,
their hunger and their great mistakes.
In the morning I will gather them,
club them if they are not yet dead,
skin them and stitch them into a coat
to keep myself warm and admired and concealed.
John Brehm, “Revelation,” The Way Water Moves (Flume Press, 2002)
“Fernweh: (n.) A German word that describes the feeling of homesickness for a far away land, a place you have never visited. Do not confuse this with the word, wanderlust; Fernweh is much more profound; it is the feeling of an unsatisfied urge to escape and discover new places, almost a sort of sadness. You miss a place you have never experienced, as opposed to lusting over it or desiring it like wanderlust. You are seeking freedom and self-discovery, but not a particular home.”
Here, we are one geography:
every part of us inked on a map
where, across all the blue waters,
continents’ edges inexplicably match.
I move closer to you in the dark,
feel the slow heat
that embers you deeper into the night.
Where all fires descend a few hours
into their own slow-dreaming hearts.
Where the ravine hides in its own steepness
no matter how long, how fiercely we love.
—Jane Hirshfield, “Sleeping,” Of Gravity & Angels (Wesleyan, 2011)
Stanka Koleva, Dance, n.d.