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Demand It Courageously by Julia Hartwig

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MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM

1.
She’s a marvel, my love is, is how a letter ends. This is how a stranger tells me about lives unfurling, and of which I have no part of but am a witness to all the same.

2.
I think it is incredibly brave and endearing, making room for wonderment.

3.
It was difficult to get up today. It took hours. What are you if not some wounded animal, I think.

4.
But to be thankful nevertheless. To be grateful for things that arrange themselves into your life precisely because there is room.

5.
I have been, at some point, been astonished by someone’s being. I wonder now if anyone, at some point, has been amazed that I exist.

6.
But shouldn’t that have been: what a marvel that I exist!

7.
It is exactly what you think it is, I whisper to myself, birds fluttering about inside my chest.

Demand It Courageously
Julia Hartwig
Translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter

    Make some room for yourself, human animal.
    Even a dog jostles about on his master’s lap to
improve his position. And when he needs space he
runs forward, without paying attention to commands
or calls.
    If you didn’t manage to receive freedom as a gift,
demand it as courageously as bread and meat.
    Make some room for yourself, human pride and
dignity.
    The Czech writer Hrabal said:
    I have as much freedom as I take.

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This poem appeared in In Praise of the Unfinished by Julia Hartwig, published by Knopf, 2008. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Julia HartwigFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: being humancourage and what it takesthe self • Or browse the index

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