First Day of Spring
for Keith Waldrop
After 9/11 I found it
difficult to read, I found it
hard to talk, I didn't want
to think, let alone write.
I was argumentative, difficult
to be around. I didn't want
to talk to anybody. I began
to haunt the park, spending
entire days watching the sky,
feeding the gulls, the ducks
and the occasional swan.
One day I came across "Semiramis- if I
Remember" which I had
received some weeks earler from Cydney Chadwick,
the publisher. I remembered
having read it and liking it
very much. Then, taking it off
the shelf, to my surprise, I
not only could read it but I
read it gratefully, voraciously.
Why could I read it and
almost nothing else? Now,
rereading it I see why. Like Rilke's
Duino Elegies, it is not afraid
to look death in the eyes. But like few books of
this nature, for example, almost
all of E. M. Cioran's books, it is not
afraid to embrace life either. And now I
realize what I had tried to learn from my college
days on from Rilke and what clearly
Keith is trying to teach me.
To be less afraid of death
I have only to
learn to be less
afraid of life. To be less afraid
of living, I have only to learn
to be less afraid of loving.
[written for the occasion of
reading with Keith Waldrop at the KGB