Schattentänzer Cannot Be Made Light of

 

If I cried out

            who would hear me up there

                                among the angelic orders?

And suppose one suddenly

             took me to his heart

                               I would shrivel

I couldn’t survive

            next to his

                           greater existence.

                        ~Rilke trans. by David Young

 

 

Just another empty cage stands alone

in the comfort of a dark

 

cliff.  Schattentänzer can feel

the closest distance—how it grows

 

and grows till there is so much space

in the work of breathing.  I’ve got to have

 

my suffering, so I can

withstand the weight of that

 

cross that is solely mine to bear.  It’s funny

how distance learns to grow.  In a terrible act

 

of courage, I did cry out, seducing

a treacherous thing to come to me.  It defined

 

beautiful love.  Maybe it was an angel or some God

made of man.  Indeed, I did shrivel just like

 

the poem had warned.  This human flesh is

always rejected that greater existence.  Beauty knows

 

its destructive nature—it only resides in moments

that pass the hand as little grains of sand

 

too small to notice by the naked eye.  God, sometimes

you just don’t come through.  I have

 

stitched the fabric of my existence sometimes

where the wind blows, moans, shrieks in the darkest

 

landscape.  Tell me, someone out there, of crazy

and maybe I will understand.  Gods and angels work

 

in league to disassemble all that’s mortal, yet it’s

the wind and water which erode any of the Earth’s

 

permanence.  Nothing lasts, so I cry

out on the wailing cliffs at Duino

 

where the wind keeps me from falling

while I lean out ailing to hear myself more completely

 

in the fissures of my skull.  The words come

to me.  Every letter later written on a tattered notebook exists

 

from the coursing blood just below my finger’s skin,

all while—as a life—I become less living

 

with every deep breath guiding the strokes

of my pen: that tap, tap, tapping on the keys

 

to the rhythm of my heart pounding out a battle

march.  If instead of wind, should I stand in fire

 

being the quick flicker of a dying flame, the Shadow

Dancer can only be seen the instant darkness licks the ether

 

making me no less a shadow, even as I balance

posed as the Lord

 

of Dance, Natarajasana, with the searing wisdom of rocks

ablaze under my footing, I am

 

still what I am, until I am no more.

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