Today I give you Galway Kinnell. I don’t know much about him as a person, his bio, just that he writes beautifully, and that I saw him read in person once. I remember that he was reading a new poem, one that hadn’t been published yet, and it was about a kiss and it was one of the most sensual and lovely poems I’d ever heard. I’ve tried to find that poem over the years, but not knowing what he ultimately titled it, and really not knowing more than the feeling it gave me (as in actual lines or stanzas), I am left with just that feeling. And I suppose that must be enough.
The poem I’ve selected offers some good advice. It feels like something you should adhere to maybe when you’re grieving, or are going through a particularly rough or depressing patch in your life. And even if that’s not the case, it’s still not a bad philosophy.
by Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
– from Mortal Acts, Mortal Words