Half Marten, Half Swallow


Longing is a curious beast. I imagine it as half marten, half swallow.

The marten is longing in its devouring form. Slender, sly and feral, it eats away at the soul, gnawing and crawling through the hollows of which existence is made. The marten won’t abide anyone by its side. It lives alone, but knows no limits. And it hunts at night or first light, when humans are most vulnerable. Finally it sinks its sick teeth into bone. After that, there is only contrition.

The swallow is longing as promise. Swiftly and nimbly it traces hope’s unruly lines across the sky. Even when the bird is alone its deft whirling makes it seem many. Every sharp yaw, every sudden dive shows that life can take another turn. The  firmament may be empty, but rebirth is augured line by darting line.

If the marten is incapable of releasing its grip on what once was, the swallow exalts the future as attainable. Between memory and apprehension, the present unfolds. It is the tense of yearning, of dependence.  

 (For Literaturhaus Stuttgart)