A Woman Going Blind
She sat like the others, holding her tea.
It seemed to me that her fingers pressed
her cup a little differently from the rest.
She laughed. It was almost painful to see.
And when we stood after quite some time,
and without much thought, we slowly walked
through the many rooms (we laughed and talked),
I noticed: she had fallen behind
like someone who remains withdrawn
before singing to a great and daunting crowd.
Her eyes had a brightness, a joy endowed
from someplace else, like a sunlit pond.
She followed us slowly as time went by,
as if there were still something unmastered in her condition;
and yet, as if she knew that after her transition,
she would no longer walk, but only fly.
Rainer Maria RilkeTranslated from German by Paul Weinfield, ©2014