Doris Kareva


Life has no story,
life is unfolding.

Is it true that we get
all that we wish?

Is it true that we get
all as we deserve?

Is it true that we are caught
by all we evaded?

Time, you fleeting
and far-fetching thing –

life is no story,
but hope and honing.


You are no better than anyone.
You are no worse than anyone.
You have been given the world.
Look what there is to see.

Nurture what is around you,
nurture who is beside you.
All creatures in their own way
are funny.

All are fragile.


On behalf of all
who have been lost at sea,
on behalf of all
who have lost hold of the day,
I pray this day
in the shrinking light of tapers
from a tired heart’s last
pain and passion.

tramps, crooks, cripples,
vagabonds and courtesans,
pimps and palmists,
loafers, liars, junkies,
scabs, spendthrifts, boozers;
you who are frightened, famished, frozen,
who are born fatherless,
whom the world has shunned,
who are lost and long distraught –
you shall rest in the softest beds
this night.

For you I spread a table,
fine wines and choice dishes –
come, come.
I know you well,
your blood might be mingled in mine ...

Only for one does the gate fall silent.
Only you I do not know,


I sing in praise of the loser
for the winner is well lauded,
I kneel before the forlorn,
I bow before the beaten.
The world-quitter creates,
Discovers selfdom in dreams;
the reality-bearer holds
strength and stature untold.

I sing in praise of the loser
and for the have-not’s joy;
I crown the outcast, pressing
my lips to that noble brow –
to the one who labours
lifelong with lack and loss,
both lightly and upright,
I am true to the core.


The world slips the mind, mutates and melts.
All that collects, clusters, recoils.
Roaming in the blood is star salt,
pounding in memory a purple pulse:
do not believe it! Your being has been.
Do not worry – it recurs in the head.
What truly never has been
is only and always at hand.


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