Letters to a Poet – a poem by Martin Willitts Jr

Letters to a Poet

(With lines, in italics, from Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Book of Hours)

For Wally Swist


There is a spontaneous combustion to changing a life —
a deeper search into the spiritual
spark of life — one spark churning the necessary urge
to change, and the language of change is
not as important as the transformation itself —

only nature contains the alteration
in their native tongue,
its own timbre and virtuoso —
an after-shook, a settling-in,
following the change —

all breathless and breathtaking —
leading us to a new place
where we search for the Creator
and the Creator searches for us,
and we meet in the middle
on common ground.

We are unable to talk, not knowing what to say
or how to say it — how can we express amazement
while discovering solace?
We can allow ourselves to merge with Spirit.

We are startled to find spirituality
outside the structure of church —
but we shouldn’t be surprised;
after all, spirituality is everywhere.
Why wouldn’t spirituality be found in the most natural places?
Spirituality doesn’t play hide-and-seek;
it wants to be sought and discovered.

We are all workmen building spirituality.
We construct spirituality in our hearts so we may find our Creator
and its many names, many faces, many voices,
many stillness in necessary places — both wholeness
and absence, always wanting to enter us.

Martin Willitts Jr is a Quaker poet. He has over 20 full-length collections including How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016); Unfolding of Love (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2020); and forthcoming Leaving Nothing Behind (Fernwood Press, 2022). He is an editor for The Comstock Review.

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