“The god appears, then is gone; and the abandoned soul must spend years wandering in his traces.”
–Stephen Mitchell, Foreword to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies
This is what it is like to be unable to disbelieve, to be unable to hide from God even (especially) in the midst of the suffering fire or the endless depths. No different, really, than being unable to escape the traces of the lover or the eternal friend who has departed but left behind remnants and fragments that never fully disappear, but continue to mark out the contours of your world. We are left to reckon with and breathe in the traces of an absent presence. Lovers, friends, God–they have begun the song or the poem, but we are left to finish it. In the traces we begin to understand how we can come to see the faces of the lover, the friend, the very face of God in the faces of others. But also–only in this sense can howling and mourning become a terrible poetry.