On Living

after Nâzim Hikmet



When we draw life, the pen never lifts

from the ageing page.

As trees, we move in circles, cycles –

we lose everything and nothing,

for the days we blossom green.


Our hands will always wrinkle

in the water, in the biting wind.

We will always blush

at the sound of our name, 

at the tenderness of caressing a face.


We become spheres, losing our leaves




to bloom after the fall.

To find earth moist on our arrival –

a departure becomes an entrance.


Yet we find Death 

an uncomfortable companion:

something wretched dredged from the sea.

We spit the ocean into our palms,

but let salt cling, childlike, to our skin and hair.


Living to die, as all things do.




Awaiting an after, instead of the homecoming – 

your bones never leave. 

Your soul, caught like a kite, 

between boughs, clouds

and mountains.


Listen carefully to the air we breathe,

taste the voices, the love

of every soul settling again

to rest in our mother’s soft, impenetrable hands.


All nature in this way passes

only to return . . .*

*Seneca, On Despising Death



Poem: © Kristiana Reed 2021


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