‘…the stumbling breaths we borrow from each other are all we have to keep each other alive.’

This poem is resplendent. I don’t usually comment on the poems I post, but this one urged it out of me. Read the final few lines. See how they afford a sort of desperate comfort that is altogether settling and yet, pregnant with inevitabilities…


‘It’s because the earth continues to wobble on its axis
that we continue to stumble down the streets of the heart.
It’s because of the loneliness of the first cell trying to swim
through its primordial pool that we are filled with a kind of
galactic fear. For example: one moment a rocket falls
capriciously into a square. Another moment, a rogue wave
turns over the fishing boat whose crew leaves their memories
floating like an oil slick that never reaches shore.
In this way we understand our dying loves scratching at the door.
In this way, each love creates its own theory of pain. Each love
gnaws the derelict hours to the bone. But because there are
so many blank spaces in history we still have time
to write our own story. Wittgenstein said our words have
replaced our emotions. He never understood how
we have to cleanse ourselves of these invisible parasites
of doubt and fear. We might as well worry about
the signals from dead worlds wandering around the universe
forever. Think instead of how the trees prop up the sky.
How the rain falls into the open eyes of the pond
bringing a vision no one expected. Here’s mine: this bee
hovering over the pencil seems to bring a message from
the deepest flowers you inhabit. Because I don’t know
where all this love has come from, because the clouds are
covered with our footsteps that know no time, I am
no longer surprised when each day comes from a new place,
because in this way, I can imagine these words getting lost
in your lungs, my fingers curling inside you as if I could
gather you inside my own heart, or tracing the slope of your hip
towards a whole other world. Don’t worry. Like us the planet
wobbles because of the shifting hot and cold zones, high
and low pressures, the pull of tides. The stars that are
these words are always closer than we think despite
the theories of astronomers. In this way, I will always be there,
a rain falling into the sea, the abandoned light opening your eyes
despite the curtains of reason, the life you give each time
you turn to me, because the stumbling breaths we borrow
from each other are all we have to keep each other alive.’

– Richard Jackson, Cause and Effect –

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