- The Souls of One Who Has Lived
My God, the soul you have given meIs pure.As for the others, well
You know how it happens:One person speaks,Another listens.
Now that we have the printed wordThis could go on forever.And beyond words
We carry the souls of the body:This touch, that pain,The familiar motion of backbone and leg.
And the souls of trees as we know them.Landscapes. Buildings.Their tastes and sounds.
Still I have not mentioned the soul of true loveAnd its many variations,Some more pure than others.
The consummate moment ofSoul-happening-now.The disappointment afterward. [End Page 72]
My God, the soul you have given meIs pure. You breathed it into me.You will take it from me when I die,
And you will restore it to meIn the life to come.As for the others, well
You know how a funeral is like a rummage sale.How the pieces are gathered and matchedAlthough some are missing.
How the mourners take into their mortal bodiesThe souls of one who has livedAs a gesture, a fragrance, a song. [End Page 73]
Eve Sutton teaches and assists writers in California. Her poetry is often in dialogue with other poets. "The Souls of One Who Has Lived" speaks to her friend Chana Bloch, using liturgy quoted by Yehuda Amichai in his poem "My God, the Soul." Sutton's poem was composed in 1998, while Bloch was in especially close communication with Amichai, working to complete the English translation of his final book before he died.