After my death I’ll tell you how many decades I’m behind
in writing telephone numbers in my notebook;
it is grubby, long-suffering and old.
I write and write in it, rubbing nothing out.
My telephone notebook is a city of the living and the dead,
the dead are born again
and the same is true of the living.
It is a city of friends,
loved ones and chance encounters.
Meetings there take place at any time of day.
Everyone starts out there with everyone
and everyone knows everybody else.
New friendships are old, the old are new.
There everyone writes himself in without rubbing anyone out.
Noted like this the numbers are stamped
on the skin of the day
and together they write secrets they don’t even know.
Since sincerity settles
into them all
they merge and crowd together,
stretched out they set inner roads in motion.
So number matches number and is fond of it,
so number hushes number and comforts it,
though when there’s no third number any more
there’s no response
from the number sought.
So the numbers entered will always
be alive in themselves,
and the fates of the secrets will last together
in the travellers through the gentleness in their pure souls,
and it will always remain so as long as the numbers
stay in it,
and as long as they can be told:
Always be good to your souls
and as long as my body moves
I will be a river that flows in you all.
But when it is not so
I too will become one of the numbers there.