page 15 of 96 of Duino Elegies

The Second Elegy

Tobit was one of the only righteous men who buried the dead according to rights. The journey to the next world matters as does our memory of the dead. Angels and birds are the heralds – augury – of infinite time, not future, not prophecy, but pure, terrifying infinite spaces. And who resides in those infinite spaces but the archangel Micheal himself, messenger of God who blesses Tobit’s daughter-in-law by ridding her of the curse of the demon that would not allow her to marry and create life from within her.

Yet the first creations were all the things of the world, the mountains, the rivers, all the things that are not us. We came last and we named them, though the word had already created them. We interpret only.

And as we live “we evaporate”, constantly giving off parts of ourselves as if life was an act of boiling away and “what is ours rises from us”, including our smiles. Perhaps we are giving ourselves back to the angles? Perhaps we are also mixing together with everyone else’s essence? And where do the smiles go? They have an effect long after they disappear – our emotions are so much larger than we are – where does that excess energy go? Yet we don’t notice any of this happening, we go about “like a rush of air” always onto some design of our making that really doesn’t, in the end, matter all that much. What matters is that we exist now, and now, and now. But we’re locked out of that eternity.

Born into angels and born from the mother – always being born into something.