I wrote this poem when I was twenty five years old. A lot of my juvenilia has been tossed or lost; no great tragedy there. This poem has lasted. I was deeply under Rilke's spell at the time. I don't often show or read this poem. Maybe a few poetry lovers will come this way and appreciate its intensity.
Everything is in a look.
Yet still, everything
is in looking away.
Unable to breathe suns from each other,
we turn to contemplate
and wash our hearts
with what warmth remains.
And again, that look,
rending the cosmos,
pours from the vat of creation
in our eyes.
The unspeakable love dashes its silences
against the perimeters of our exiles.
Yet, and there is always a yet,
to be born, to be resurrected
in a touch. The miracle is
that my skin was made to meet your skin,
that unknowable lightnings are our servants
to carry the burdens of love and loneliness.
Somehow my universe gathers energy
and spreads, with the vague arms of an amoeba
to some call on the horizon.
No matter that horizons always recede;
if you too were to will your stars and dust
towards the furthest reach,
perhaps we would meet on some plain
lit by the ecstasy of celestial collision.
And perhaps we must die
to know each other.
Look! I would fling off my skin
like a cloak,
to show you the sun that burns within.
But as it is, only my face,
and what desperate radiations that can pass
through this terrible cloak
may reach you.
Know me! Know me!
Not by my escapes into smiles
but by my facelessness,
too full to shine,
too lonely to weep.
We are infinity
yet the mystery is always a deeper note
than we can hear.
Hearken to the remotest timbre,
it rises from our source
but hides its silence.
Listen to the mask of music,
behold the facade of suns,
yet be ready to fling them away
to peer into the depth beyond depth.
Love only wears faces to entice us
in our simplicity.
God dons the robe of the cosmos
that we may not plunge into her nakedness
before we ourselves are naked love.