How we hunger for poetry, for words that speak of the truth and beauty of things. We all need to read and write poetry; to make poems and have them made for us. Our souls demand nothing less; our hearts shrivel in their absence. In Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, William Carlos Williams wrote:
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is
Going through Chris’s last notebooks and sketches recently, I saw that she had noted those particular lines several times. In extremis, she understood their literal truth. I think they helped inspired her to live artfully until the day she died.
In Out of Africa, Karen Blixen relates that when the Kikuyu workers on her farm wanted her to make up rhymes, they would say to her: “Speak again. Speak like rain.” Intuitively, they equated the heightened language of poetry with rainfall: that most precious and life-giving occurrence.
I found their spontaneous image so beautiful that I decided to play with it a little. So, with gratitude to Karen Blixen and to the generous spirit of Africa, I dedicate these verses to all who yearn for love and to all those for whose love we yearn.
Fill my heart to overflowing.
Inundate its dusty chambers
Like the coming of the monsoon
To a parched and waiting land.
Not the harsh unseasonal squall
Lashing against my window,
No, I’ll have no rain but yours,
No poems but those you make.
I will drink your sweet songs
As if I was dying from thirst.
Speak again. Speak like rain.
Drench me with your words.