“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.”
~Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
“The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves…
“Of course, women, so empowered, are dangerous.”
~Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
Look at the birds. Even flying
out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open
at either end of day.
The work of wings
was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.
People want what they want
and what they want is never one thing.
All that desire
sliming a space rock
Shivering the air
a loon’s cry.
There is only so much
you can care for or carry
and for this there is
no one canoe
The Undiscoverable Self
“It has always been much easier (because it has always seemed much safer) to give a name to the evil without than to locate the terror within.
“And yet, the terror within is far truer and far more powerful than any of our labels: the labels change, the terror is constant. And this terror has something to do with that irreducible gap between the self one invents — the self one takes oneself as being, which is, however, and by definition, a provisional self — and the undiscoverable self which always has the power to blow the provisional self to bits.”
Thunder, Perfect Mind
I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter. . . .
I am she whose wedding is great,
And I have not taken a husband. . . .
I am shameless;
I am ashamed. . . .
I am godless,
And I am one whose God is great.
~from the Gnostic gospel of Mary Magdalene
Du kommst und gehst
Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer and I am dark, I am forest.
Rainier Maria Rilke
To Give Myself UtterlyI want to give myselfutterlyas this maplethat burned and burnedfor three days without stintingand then in two moredropped off every leaf;as this lake that,no matter what comesto its green-blue depths,both takes and returns it.In the still heart that refuses nothing,the world is twice-born—two earths wheeling,two heavens,two egrets reachingdown into subtraction;even the fishfor an instant doubled,before it is gone.I want the fish.I want the losing it allwhen it rains and I wantthe returning transparence.I want the placeby the edge-flowers wherethe shallow sand is deceptive,where whateversteps in must plunge,and I want that plunging.I want the oneswho come in secret to drinkonly in early darkness,and I want the oneswho are swallowed.I want the waythe water sees without eyes,hears without ears,shivers without will or fearat the gentlest touch.I want the way itaccepts the cold moonlightand lets it pass,the way it letsall of it passwithout judgment or comment.There is a lake,Lalla Ded sang, no largerthan one seed of mustard,that all things return to.O heart, if youwill not, cannot, give me the lake,then give me the song.~Jane Hirshfield