by Kiko Matsing

from New Poems: A Revised Bilingual Edition
by Rainer Maria Rike (trans. Edward Snow), North Point Press, 2001

“Centered” by David Hill

Buddha in Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond, that closes tightly in and sweetens,–
all this world out to the farthest stars
is the flesh around your seed: we greet you.

Look: you can feel how nothing any longer
clings to you; your husk is in infinity,
and the potent juice now stands there pressing.
And from outside a radiance assists it,

for high above, your suns in their full splendor
have wheeled blazingly around.
Yet inside you now, secure and growing:
what lasts beyond the suns.

Marginal Notes: The painting is not of Buddha, but of the artist’s Christian friend, praying. David Hill has found a visual vocabulary of faith that is rich, authentic, and deeply felt. Such common gestures as the folded or upraised hands become defamiliarized with monochromatic treatment, impasto textures, and sharp chiaroscuros. The result is a portrayal of faith that is intensely inward and intimate, not fire-and-brimstone, but coal that smolders from within. It is the faith of mystics.