Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.

illustration of horses at night
Illustration by Kristina Closs

“Horses at Midnight Without a Moon”
–by Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there’s music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

-from Collected Poems

The night is your cottage industry now

The great Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) gifted this paper-filled world with beautiful, crushing words.

“Stationery”

The moon did not become the sun.
It just fell on the desert
in great sheets, reams
of silver handmade by you.
The night is your cottage industry now,
the day is your brisk emporium.
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.

I love you more than the flame that limits the world

Oh, Rilke, how I adore you.

from Book of Hours

You, darkness, of whom I am born —

I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illumines
and excludes all the rest.

But the darkness embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations — just as they are.

It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.

translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows