Sometimes, I miss the Aramaic of youth.
Then, the personal flame came over us
and we spoke to the numb nations—
until the nations winnowed and muted us,
but not breaking the spirit of our speech.
Now, I live in the breeze’s murmur,
the native tongues to which the soul responds,
a language that comforts us where we are.
Here on Patmos, the olive-green wind
is tethliménos—bereaved, keening its dialect
over the lee. Sometimes, I miss the Aramaic,
the Hebrew, the language of birds
in my father’s courtyard.
My permanent sadness and permanent joy.
There will be new countries, a clarity of experience
only when you step out of it.
A clarity of Jerusalem found only on Patmos.
It is a language of gesture and longing.
Metaphor is for God.
Simile, for the extent of humans.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.