AN EMPTY SKY
The sky has taken its place/ leaning against the wall. / It is like a prayer to what is empty. / And what is empty turns its face to us/ and whispers.../ I am not empty, I am open. ---From Vermeer, Tomas Transtromer
1. For The Buried Miners
All they could have done was to stitch slices
of their picture of the sky, its blank expanse
their thin measure of what feels free and safe.
Buried for days on end under buttresses
that could no longer hold despoiled walls
of dirt, they prayed for a glimpse of the sky.
They did not need to: even in the starkest
gloom of that dark and black tomb of gold,
they each had a share of that absent sky.
O, for a smell of that dry air in Chile’s hills!
But this black hole, now a cloying dread,
is it all that is between them and raw despair?
2. Not Empty, but Open
Where is the sky when we need it? Or do we?
Even if it is there for the taking, will it answer
our prayers? It will empty itself of rain before
we can be saved. It is closed. It is empty. Pray
to the rocks, as loud as an intoning bishop,
it throws the entreaty right back. But you hear
an echo, a whisper from an unseen face: I am
the refuge of all the winged who roam spaces
for the free and unafraid. It is your little voice.
Like those darting sparrows, your unbound
soul will storm the abandoned bolted gates,
save that these doors are abundantly open,
and have always been agape; and the garden,
once lost has always remained open, the sky
its door, waiting for all who want to till it.
--- ALBERT B. CASUGA