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“Language” and Other Poems

Rüdiger Herzing Rückmann
On Words (November 2021)
Inward Light



My words move in unexpected directions,
As they translate themselves from German to English and back again.
They take longer to reach their destination as they explore
Hills and valleys, pause to rest before they reappear. 
But they know their way home, my words in two languages
That have belonged to my family for generations.
I preserve their history, these gifts that sustain me,
As sacred as breath that I will always keep safe.


Dial a Quaker

Am I in an hour of need when I call a Friend
or just eager to be freed from thoughts
that fill my mind as I race to find
greater faith for this day where darkness
overtakes mountains embracing our home?
I moved to this small castle carved into hills,
an escape for hallowed thoughts,
to find a more direct way to seek Light
as I dial a Quaker and hope for relief
from thinking too hard, from doubting
what I know I believe.


Refusing Death

My maple tree refuses to die.
Sprouts shoot up from its base
even after leaves have dropped
and branches have stopped showing off.
The roots have not given in.
New growth pushes through old bark
torn by my shovel as I rush through
this summer day. My maple’s stubbornness
is rewarded by sudden rain
and hope that thickens
like heartwood that remains.


Wedgwood Blues

My mother displays her Wedgwood
in a protected cabinet,
sturdy pieces, mostly unglazed,
rarely moved: vases, bowls,
and plates in pale blue,
ennobled by reliefs in white,
cameo-like, tributes to Greek myths
my mother brought into her classroom
year after year. Her words about love,
heroism, fear stayed with students
who collected them like sacred objects
to be kept safe for their own children
and then passed on again,
as if my mother is still teaching,
like the legends on her Wedgwood reliefs
to whom time has been kind,
her lessons yet intact, displayed and believed.


Rüdiger (Rudy) Rückmann is a poet, essayist, and Director of Advancement at Hawaii Youth Symphony. He attends Honolulu Friends Meeting (PacYM) and is a member of West Branch Friends Meeting (IYMC). His Quaker faith inspires his writing.



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