Tuesday, December 05, 2006

276. The Precision Of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy - Yehuda Amichai

From: The Precision of of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy: The Touch of Longing Is Everywhere
I sit in my friends' garden on a chair made of hollow
bamboo reeds. Other reeds were turned into flutes to be played
in other places. I sit at ease, I sit shiva for time lost
and time that will be lost, and my heart is calm and quiet.
The spirits of the dead visit me in the light of day
and the spirits of the living haunt my nights.
I sit on a chair made of bamboo reeds
that wanted to be flutes, just as the flutes would have liked
to be calm and quiet in a chair. I think about bamboo reeds
that grow near the water. There's longing everywhere.
The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy.

And all the while messengers keep running back and forth
to my childhood to retrieve what I forgot or left behind
as if from a house that is about to be demolished,
or like Robinson Crusoe, from the slowly sinking ship
to the island––so I salvage from by childhood provisions and memories
for the next installment of my life.

The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy. I'm thinking
how precise people are when they describe their pain in a doctor's office.
Even those who haven't learned to read and write are precise:
"This one's a throbbing pain, that one's a wrenching pain,
this one gnaws, that one burns, this is a sharp pain
and that––a dull one. Right here. Precisely here,
yes, yes." Joy blurs everything, I've heard people say
after night of love and feasting, "It was great,
I was in seventh heaven." Even the spaceman who floated
in outer space, tethered to a spaceship, could say only, "Great,
wonderful, I have no words."
The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain––
I want to describe, with a sharp pain's precision, happiness
and blurry joy. I learned to speak among the pains.

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