The Common Good
July 2009

Alone

by Richard Schiffman | July 2009

To you who are lost today
like a needle in a haystack, reading this poem alone.
Alone, brother island, sister moon. The ocean is big,

To you who are lost today
like a needle in a haystack, reading this poem alone.
Alone, brother island, sister moon. The ocean is big,
and the sky is bigger, but no one knows your measure—
no one can say where you stop
and the world starts.

And why talk about the world, when you
are yourself the world that contains the world.
The world is alone in you, not you in it.
Can you be tender with the lonesome planet
cuddling it like an infant, enfolding it like an ocean?
It is the child that you were born to love. This creation
of all and everything alone in all and everything.
Only you can soothe it.

Brother island, sister moon,
the ocean is big, the sky is bigger. But love is vaster still
than what it loves—as the thinker is greater than his thoughts,
as the doer exceeds her deeds, as the dreamer is more
astounding than his wildest dreams, as the giver
is larger than her most prodigious gift.

Pour yourself out, therefore, as gift, the world’s
gift to itself, but do not tell the world what you are doing,
that’s the point—be anonymous, like the wind, like the rain,
swelling the boundless ocean, ripping the heart open.
Until nothing remains outside it.

The heart is not a needle
in a haystack. It is the haystack.
And it was never lost.

Richard Schiffman is a poet and writer who splits his time between New York City and New Mexico.

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