As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others

I think of these words by the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) all the time, and I cannot help but share them again with all of you today.

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“Think of Others”

As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you wage your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: If only I were a candle in the dark).

Translated by Mohammed Shaheen

from Almond Blossoms and Beyond

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as soon as these blossoms open they fall

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Cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Spring 2018. Photo by me. 

For your Saturday, a fleeting and powerful poem by Izumi Shikibu, who was considered one of the greatest women poets of Japan’s Heian period (794-1185).

“Come quickly –as soon as
these flowers open,
they fall.
This world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers.”

translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

The circular afternoon is now a bay where the world in stillness rocks.

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My dear friends’ cat Hudson contemplating downtown Seattle. 2012 (photo by me)

“Between Going and Staying”

by Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.

The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

translated by Eliot Weinberger