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
From"Surge"

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
become

Just now a kind of golden dust settles over everything

Dear Readers, Friends,

Thanks again for joining me during another National Poetry Month. I hope that some of these words I’ve shared have helped bring a moment of beauty, solace, reflection, or hope into your lives and that the year ahead is brighter than this surreal stretch of time swirling around us. Here’s one final poem to savor by the great Linda Pastan (1932-).

Special thanks again to one of my dearest friends and kindred spirits, Kristina Closs, who brought a whole other layer to the poems this month with her beautiful and thoughtful illustrations. If you enjoyed her work, please visit her Etsy store where you can purchase prints–or contact her for custom commissions, which she will gladly work on with you.

Take good care, everyone.

Natalie

sugar bowl surrounded by gold leaves
Art by Kristina Closs

“What We Fear Most” 

for R after the accident

We have been saved one more time
from what we fear most.
Let us remember this moment.
Let us forget it if we can.
Just now a kind of golden dust
settles over everything:
the tree outside the window,
though it is not fall;
the cracked sugar bowl,
so carefully mended once.
This light is not redemption,
just the silt of afternoon sun
on an ordinary day,
unlike any other.

now there is brown earth under my fingernails

As we wrap up National Poetry Month, here is my second to last (one more tomorrow!) poem, a sensual celebration of spring, of our love of the earth and for each another by the one and only Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

illustration of a tomato
Art by Kristina Closs

“Sowing”

It is the sink of the afternoon
the children asleep or weary.
I have finished planting the tomatoes
in this brief sun after four days of rain
now there is brown earth under my fingernails
And sun full on my skin
with my head thick as honey
the tips of my fingers are stinging
from the rich earth
but more so from the lack of your body
I have been to this place before
where blood seething commanded
my fingers fresh from the earth
dream of plowing a furrow
whose name should be you.

from The Selected Works of Audre Lorde