Night-Flowering Cactusby Thomas Merton
Original Language English
I know my time, which is obscure, silent and brief
For I am present without warning one night only.
When sun rises on the brass valleys I become serpent.
Though I show my true self only in the dark and to no man
(For I appear by day as serpent)
I belong neither to night nor day.
Sun and city never see my deep white bell
Or know my timeless moment of void:
There is no reply to my munificence.
When I come I lift my sudden Eucharist
Out of the earth's unfathomable joy
Clean and total I obey the world's body
I am intricate and whole, not art but wrought passion
Excellent deep pleasure of essential waters
Holiness of form and mineral mirth:
I am the extreme purity of virginal thirst.
I neither show my truth nor conceal it
My innocence is described dimly
Only by divine gift
As a white cavern without explanation.
He who sees my purity
Dares not speak of it.
When I open once for all my impeccable bell
No one questions my silence:
The all-knowing bird of night flies out of my mouth.
Have you seen it? Then though my mirth has quickly ended
You live forever in its echo:
You will never be the same again.
|-- from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton|