On lines from “In Memory of the Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca”
by Thomas Merton
Where the white bridge rears up its stamping arches
Proud as a colt across the clatter of the shallow river,
The sharp guitars
Have never forgotten your name.
I stood up to my knees in the April river
and the foam swirled like a lover around me
and didn’t each species of tree and bush
blend into each other and didn’t the sky come down
with its rose aurora as the clouds
descended in fragments and patches?
In the midst of all nature I stood there waiting
for you to come say your name in my ear.
I am the woman who sings and watches
where the white bridge rears up its stamping arches.
When I’d stood for hours saying prayers like wishes,
when the gentle light had entered my body,
didn’t you come on your ten-hands-high stallion
riding down the gorge from the farther highlands?
I know that prayers have no real answers
that the fabric of my faith’s frayed but not riven.
Although you came to me, I couldn’t understand you.
You brought no resolutions. Were you only a mirage?
Your mount, though, forged gamely into the silver
proud as a colt across the clatter of the shallow river.
As soon as you had come you galloped off in silence.
I was left on my own by the rapacious river
and how should I live then with no one to stay by me?
So I turned and left through the dark of the valley
and found a sad music in the fork of an ash tree
a music made of wind and the tuning forks of stars
I captured the notes and put them in my backpack,
carried the songs to play at the sad café, and there they spar
with a dancer on fire and the sharp guitars.
Where the white bridge rears up to its stamping arches,
once you came clattering on a pure black stallion.
You rode out of storm but you told me no answers;
you were dream and thunder; you never knew me.
When you rode away, I felt no transformation
There was nothing and no one to blame.
Still there’s something I reach for,
some lost part of my spirit I want to reclaim.
I’ve never forgotten your name.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.