I Love the Dark Hours of My Being

by Romana Iorga

After Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours (I, 5)

I love the dark hours of my being,
these earthen jars filled
with sunflower oil. I love their dark
corridors lined with wooden
doors that open toward some distant
glimmer, a green-flecked
joy one can only find in a faraway
clearing, surrounded by trees
that sway with or without the wind,
trees that sway simply because
they have so much to say.
I love the dark hours of my being,
with their clairvoyant birds,
whose beaks are dipped in sunlight,
who open their beaks to buoy
my faltering steps as I crawl
through a tunnel of leaves,
as I emerge into the blistering
embrace of poison ivy and nettles,
the amorous tug-of-war
with spine-toothed brier and gorse.
I love the dark hours of my being,
those heavy chests with complicated
locks that sometimes open
to the merest tap, but mostly stay
closed. Those chests I’ve carried
inside me for years as the world
revolved on its axis, and my parents,
who were old when I was young,
became younger the older I got.
Those chests whose silent keyholes
I touch with blind fingertips,
hoping for a sound, anything to lift me
off this floor into a sunflower
sky, where the birds are drunk
with their own freedom and forget
the shortness of spring, that
it will snow again someday, as sure
as that sunset that shuts them
up, though not for long.
And it’s not that I want the birds
silent, it’s not that I want them
gone. It’s their dark hours I envy,
and their light hours, too, and also,
their unending praise for
anyone alive enough to move
among sorrows and songs.

Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga lives in Switzerland. She is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including Poet Lore, New England Review, Salamander, Gulf Coast, BOAAT, as well as on her poetry blog at clayandbranches.com.