We find Rilke facing south on the silent side
of the St Romanus castle church, away from
the tended family graves of those who lived
decades longer than him. His has a rose, yes,
but also a dead stick, weeds rife. Perhaps
that suits the poet wondering about his place
in the world, sculpting words from clouds
and whispers, the dynamics of near death.
I think of those wild weeks in February, 1922,
Orpheus singing in wildly strung winds,
the ghost of Wera dancing in snowy whirls
Eurydice’s frozen cliff face beside the Rhone,
that constant glacial urging of his angels
and the mountains above, parting seas of
clouds, then sinking back into your questions.
Where better to demand a definition of life.
In the castle museum, the curator is keen
to assure me that five francs is worth the visit,
even with one room to you, all in German.
I’m glad to visit, to see your face, those sad
searching eyes that looked out of towers,
seeing this valley as the art of light incarnate,
finding spaces between being and not being,
the angel and beast, the visible and invisible.
Matthew James Friday is a British born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including, recently: Dawntreader (UK), The Dillydoun Review (USA), VerbalArt (India), and Lunch Ticket (USA). The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA). He is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominated poet.