We came to transmit the shimmering from which we came

The brilliant Arab-American poet and visual artist Etel Adnan (1925-2021) passed away today at the age of 96. Adnan’s partner, the artist Simone Fattal, has described Adnan’s works as playing “the role the old icons used to play for people who believed. They exude energy and give energy. They shield you like talismans. They help you live your everyday life.”

Adan’s writing and art have certainly been a talisman and energy-giver in my own life, so today I share just one poem of hers with you and urge you to look at her art online. If you happen to be passing through New York City in the next few months, you can see her art displayed in an exhibition, “Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure,” at the Guggenheim until January 10.

Photo of Etel Adnan
Photo of Etel Adnan, Creative Commons

A long night I spent
thinking that reality was the story
of the human species

the vanquished search for the vanquished

Sounds come by, ruffling my soul

I sense space’s elasticity, 
go on reading the books she wrote on the
wars she’s seen

Why do seasons who regularly follow
their appointed time, deny their kind of energy
to us?

why is winter followed by a few
more days of winter? 

We came to transmit the shimmering
from which we came; to name it

we deal with a permanent voyage,
the becoming of that which itself had