The Motive for Johanna

“O brave new world /That has such people in ‘t!”–Shakespeare, The Tempest

There are those things
which do not matter to you
like shoes that fix you to the ground
whenever you fly above us.
When mortals offer to help you
buy purses or other deadly possessions,
you just laugh and know you never will.

Crazy. Don’t they know?
Can’t they see the way you look?
The way you are is not numbered
or fashioned by any means.
Serene, you always look like
you came from somewhere else:
a seashell, a cave, a forest,
a heath, a kiss, a fountain.

Clouds of glory trail behind you
as you move among us like every princess
we desired or ever dreamt of being.
You live the unempirical dream
we want to have, a blue-green space
within us all.

We reach for you but you fade
slipping through our pale hands.
You don’t speak plain and spurn our language.
No one knows your whirling words.
To us, you say “I wish you all the sky
and boundless fields.” You say
“Awake you many sleepers. Arise ye dead
and paralyzed on the last golden morning
on earth. Sing now, I say, and write your poems
to the spirit I am: my grace and wisdom.”

Stuck in hollows of the night,
we only shudder, sigh and wonder at what
life is like, o nymph, in that forest dream,
those fields of unbodied joy.
We pine for your touch, your spell
beyond time, in metaphors of you, Johanna.



“In the far ago land the door of his death glided¬†wide,/And the bird descended.” –Dylan Thomas, “A Winter’s Tale”

If one is lucky, life’s possibilities may also include memorable encounters with individuals who are more like spirits or the angels in Wim Wender’s film Wings of Desire. Comet-like, they whiz through our lives, inspiring us and lifting us out of our selves, imbuing us with transcendent consciousness. They veritably radiate or shine, and can be significant life-changers and life-enhancers. We are truly blessed if we ever get to meet but one of these rare people in our busy, crowded, fast-changing lives these days.


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