Monday, April 17

Mysticism for Beginners

Last week, as I was thinking about how I felt leading up to what should have been my 20 mile run, I thought of a poem I was pretty sure I'd shared with my readers before.

But when I searched through the blog I couldn't find it. So let me share it with you right now. One of my favorites.

Mysticism for Beginners
by Adam Zagajewski

The day was mile, the light was generous.
The German on the cafe terrace
held a small book on his lap.
I caught sight of the title:
Mysticism for Beginners.
Suddenly I understood that the swallows
patrolling the streets of Montepulciano
with their shrill whistles
and the hushed talk of timid travelers
from Eastern, so-called Central Europe,
and the white herons standing - yesterday? the day before? -
like nuns in fields of rice,
and the dusk, slow and systematic,
erasing the outlines of medieval houses,
and olive trees on little hills,
abandoned to the wind and heat,
and the head of the Unknown Princess
that I saw and admired in the Louvre,
and stained-glass windows like butterfly wings
sprinkled with pollen,
and the little nightingale practicing
its speech beside the highway,
and any journey, any kind of trip,
are only mysticism for beginners,
the elementary course, prelude
to a test that's been

Hmm. And now that I type it in, after my scheduled 20-mile run has been put off for a couple of weeks, it seems even more appropriate. Except for that dastardly line about sprinkling butterfly wings with pollen. Nothing should be sprinkled with pollen. Oh I long for the days when I didn't have allergies. Or at least when I wasn't affected by them.


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