Nothing But Gifts


You talked but after your talking all the rest remains.
After your talking—poets, philosophers, contrivers of romances—everything else,
All the rest deduced inside the flesh
Which lives & knows not just what is permitted.
I am a woman held fast now in a great silence.
Not all creatures have your need for words.
Birds you killed, fish you tossed into your boat,
In what words will they find rest & in what heaven?
You received gifts from me; they were accepted.
But you don’t understand how to think about the dead.
The smell of winter apples, of hoarfrost, and of linen.
There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor Earth.

—Czeslaw Milosz, from Unattainable Earth

“There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor Earth.” That’s enough to hold me for most of the day. An unexpectedly flamboyant snowstorm yesterday has made for an MLK Day that is quiet and understated. While tomorrow offers the opportunity to taste the power of community, the collective celebration of the official start of the Obama era, it also brings those of us in this vigil one step closer into the white quiet of Bonnie’s slow but inevitable exit.

Words. They feel so needed and yet they are so disappointingly inept. I keep turning to them, then leaving. Coming back, then turning away again. It feels like a particular kind of restless homelessness, this kind of grief and loss. I don’t think I’ll ever have proficiency with this, not ever.

3 Replies to “Nothing But Gifts”

  1. Deborah,
    I am so sorry to hear about Bonnie. You are in my thoughts…

  2. diana johnson says:

    Octavio Paz

    “Words are bridges”
    “Writing was to him a primordial act….”
    Poet’s Choice, Edward Hirsch

    The Bridge:
    Entering it
    you center yourself:
    the world connects
    and closes like a ring

  3. Thanks for your comfort and concern.

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