What I must tell myself ~ David Whyte

what i must tell myself


I know this house,
and this horizon,
and this world
I have made.

I know this silence
and the particular
and terrors
of the way
I try to belong
to my work,
my loved ones
and my life.

But I cannot
the world
to which
I am going.
I have only
this breath
and this presence
for my wings
and they carry me
in my body
whatever I do
from one hushed
to another.

I know my innocence
and against all sense,
I know something
of my unknowing,
and strangely
I know
all this innocence
and unknowing,
what I have

but for all my successes
I go through life
like a blind child
who cannot see,
arms outstretched
trying to put together
a world.

And the world
works on my behalf
catching me in its arms
when I go too far.

I don’t know what
I ever could have done
to have earned such faith.

Watching the geese
go south
I find that
even in silence
and even in stillness
and even in my home
without a thought
or a movement,

I am part
of a great migration
that will take me
to another place.

And though
all the things I love
may pass away and
the great family
of things and people
I have invited
around me
will see me go,

I feel them living
in me
like a great gathering
about to go with me,
to reach
a greater home.

When one thing dies
all things
die together,
and must live again
in a different way,
when one thing
is missing
everything is missing,
and must be found again
in a new whole,

and everything
wants to be complete,
everything wants
to go home
and the geese
traveling south
are like the shadow
of my breath
flying into the darkness
on great heart-beats,
to the unknown land
where I belong.

This morning
above the house
they have
found me again,
strangely full of faith,
like a blind child,
nestled in their feathers,
following a great coast
to the home
I cannot see.

David Whyte

David Whyte
‘What I Must Tell Myself’ : Revised
From the upcoming book
‘Still Possible’ : Autumn 2021
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press 2021

Orcas Island at Dusk.
Photo © David Whyte
From Lummi Island. Nov. 2nd 2020

“I have thirty new poems for my upcoming volume ‘Still Possible’ but I also have two or three pieces included from past volumes that I have revised slightly, where I feel they limped a little or didn’t go far enough in their clarity of meaning. ‘What I Must Tell Myself’ strangely, seems even more prescient than when I first wrote it over twenty years ago.” DW

Header Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash