Yearning: Elegy-8

18 April 2023


Yearning was written as part of a Method Writing Class with Jules Swales.
Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Eighth Elegy in the Duino Elegies

Yearning, no longer:
yearning will not quicken desire,
a dowager’s folded treasure,
tissue-wrapped memorabilia,
layered into an oaken chest,
tightened by bands of brass,
shackled with a copper padlock,
dragged into dim recesses
in a capacious attic,
an ancient confessional,
the soul of the Goddess
her heart pierced by the ornate key,
divinity’s thorn.

Lured into darkened cathedrals,
dropped to its knees at golden altars,
yearning searched for poetic justice,
the absence of judgment.
A drop of water
sluiced down a bottomless well.
Spilling to no end,
no rest,
no merger into a pool of knowing,
no grail.

Lured into the arms of lovers,
knees opened to the thrust of life
yearning arched toward ecstasy.
The climax was fleeting.
A burst of joy on the tongue
receded into effluvia
swallowed in the march of time.

Lured by the promise of meaning,
yearning spent untold energy creating,
never enough.
Yearning broke the body,
chafed the spirit
lacerated the heart,
and pined, merciless.
Yearning barreled, a train unchecked,
toward the certainty of disaster,
the doom of metallic wreckage,
life a smoking mess
of splintered dreams,
shattered bones,
decimated flesh
and silent death,
the specter of nothingness.

Nowhere beloved,
will satiation be found,
but within.
In the heart’s cavern, only,
seen by none,
celebrated by none,
adored by none,
the grail hides
a tabernacle cloaked in invisibility.

Humble, as Francis’ Portiuncula.
Unassuming, a fairies’ spring.
Merged into a hillside canopied in forest,
carpeted with plumy ferns.
Without form, ethereal,
beyond the third eye’s imagining.
A door opens into mystic wonder.
A fire dances before the eye
etches ashen traces of its existence
then vanishes into the cool, good night.

The wisp of flame left
ignites the soul’s remembering.
Poets write,
dancers choreograph,
sculptors chisel,
painters brush,
in homage,
not yearning.

the lapse into yearning,
is a strange thing.
Sleepwalkers bumble in shuttered attics,
dust burns noses,
sneezes shower particles of detritus
into the moted air,
shins bang against unseen furniture.
Slumbering, wraiths search,
for the sacred key.

Prodded by the tines of stars
startled by the lanterns of angels,
puzzled somnambulants awaken,
genuflect, penitent,
and ascend
one foot
and another
and another
on the interior castle’s stairs,
Avila’s dream.
And yearn no more.

Copyright 2023, Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
Other Elegies: and Elegy #8
See my writing program for women.

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