The Island (I)

The tide erases the path through the mud flats
and makes things on all sides look the same.
But the little island out there has closed its eyes.
The dike around it walls its people in.

They are as if born into a sleep
that silently blurs all destinations.
They seldom speak,
and every utterance is like an epitaph

for something cast ashore, some foreign object
that comes unexplained, and just stays.
So is everything their gaze encounters from childhood on:

not intended for them, random, unwieldy,
sent from someone else
to underscore their loneliness.

— Rilke, New Poems

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