Came upon this poem by Rilke in his Book of Images tonight – was the first thing I saw when looking for a verse to send to a friend. As I looked into it I realized it was looking into me. Give it a look:
The knight rides forth in coal-black steel Into the teeming world.
Outside his armor everything is there; sunlight and valley,
Friend and foe and feast,
May, maiden, forest and grail,
And God himself in a thousand forms
To be found along every road.
But inside the armor darkly enclosing him
And the thought comes
And comes again:
When will the blade
Pierce this iron sheath,
The undeserved and liberating blade
That will fetch me from my hiding place
Where I’ve been so long compressed –
So that, at last, I may stretch my limbs
And hear my full voice.
Another extended metaphor for this chemo journey of mine – chemo as an undeserved and liberating blade, piercing this iron sheath enclosing me, fetching me from my hiding place when I would very happily remain compressed and hidden – even from my own eyes.
The rhomphaia isn’t the short sword for close encounters nor a mere dagger easily concealed for even closer knife work. The rhomphaia is Andruil; it is the Wallace sword. It was a romphaia that would pierce Mary’s soul; it is the rhomphaia that some five times is said to be proceeding from the mouth of the triumphant Lord in Revelation.
I would never volunteer for such a piercing through my careful and polished defenses even though death be my close companion within them. Shoot, I can’t even give myself a shot of neupogen. It must be given to me by another.
Whether I would or not, I have been and am pierced through and through with a sharp two-edged blade.
I await the release.
The stretching of limbs.
The resonance of a full voice long enclosed.
In this coal-black steel.