by Rainer Maria Rilke
Issue no. 82 (Winter 1981)
There stands death, a bluish distillate
in a cup without a saucer. Such a strange
place to find a cup: standing on
the back of a hand. One recognizes clearly
the line along the glazed curve, where the handle
snapped. Covered with dust. And Hope is written
across the side, in a faded Gothic script.
The man who was to drink out of that cup
read it aloud at breakfast, long ago.
What kind of beings are they then,
who finally must be scared away by poison?
Otherwise would they stay here? Would they keep
chewing so foolishly on their own frustration?
The hard present moment must be pulled
out of them, like a set of false teeth.
Then they mumble. Then they go on mumbling. . .
O falling star,
once seen into from a bridge—:
Not to forget you. To endure.