LAST DAYS. 3

3 VIEWS OF THE WOLF. 4

ARCHIVES. 5

The Veil 6

EVERY MORNING.. 7

AT THE DEAD SEA.. 8

SECOND GENERATION.. 9

IN THE COUNTRY.. 10

A STORY OF JERUSALEM... 12

THE CHILD.. 14

 


 

 

Because my body

 

 

Because my body

always changes

like a jellyfish

or the mind

of a dangerous

psychopath

I weigh the range

of the items

in my closet

 

then determine

what shape

today

it wants me

to take

 

 

 

 


LAST DAYS

 

 

Tell my husband to come for me,

she says, pointing her finger to make sure

I can see she isnít vague, deluded. Tell him a crime

has been committed against me and that only he

can come to this place and release me from the bed

to which they chain me each night.†

 

What are you laughing at back there?

Heís not laughing, I say.†

Heís sympathizing with your plight.

Heís mocking me.† Donít mock.† You canít realize

how I suffer here.† I donít know why

I am being punished but I know I am innocent,

have done no harm to a single soul.†

 

Promise me

 

you will go to my husband

today and tell him to come for me.

I promise

and then cannot bear

to visit his paralyzed body

or even return to her hospital bed.

 

Promise me

And then she is dead

 

Her grave, with its long hyphen

between date of birth and death†

whispers

 

Never mind.

 

 


3 VIEWS OF THE WOLF

 

 

1.

 

I think if I had to do it again I'd still go for her

all sugar and spice and walking through the forest

 

Even with the clearing in sight, the grandmother,

the hunter with his surgical instrument.

 

After all, part of my hunger was born from knowing what went with

the little red cap, the sweet cheeks, the simple simple smile.

 

 

2.

 

I finished everything on my plate

as if God himself had served it up

and said, "No dessert

until you've eaten the last stringy bite

of† grandmother."

 

 

3.

 

When I saw him chained up outside the gate

all sheepish and full of longing,

I just had to go over to pet him.

 

And he leaned against me

with the length of his whole bony trunk

to say, 'don't leave Ė see

I'm all alone here, and look how I'm smiling.'

 

And what do I know Ė it's been fifty years

since I've been through the forest

and I haven't worn red†

for the devil knows how long.

 

And I sat down on the steps

and shared my egg salad sandwich.

 

And I'll probably go back tomorrow with salami.

 


ARCHIVES

 

The enormous task of the past

weighing the bulk of papers,

sifting through ancient scraps,

manuscripts, sketches, proofs

of a previous civilization,

quicksand imperatives.

 

 

the weight crushing

all prospects

for future fruition

 

burn it all

I say

begin a new space

 

that generation had

its day

 

and you

have such

precious

little time

left

 

 


The Veil

 

We dance

together

closer

than lovers

 

She clings to me

flutters

at the undulations

of my breast

ribs

belly

 

Then, like a toreador,

she appears

in my place

and I am

near her,

arching

whirling.

 

Slowly

one tip

touches

my brow

 

one tip

holds

my outstretched fingers

and her body

burgeons

billowing

behind me

 

and she and I and Abdel Wahab

 

are one


EVERY MORNING

 

Every morning my father makes porridge:

Twenty years have passed and not a day

goes by that I am not awakened

by the scrape of his wooden spoon

stirring the thickening meal.

 

Your father

will come to you to soon

nourishing in his old way, simmering

nutritious beginnings for each new dawn.

 


AT THE DEAD SEA

 

Sixty years after Auschwitz,

I am naked, covered with mud

and wrapped in plastic

waiting in a tiny tiled chamber

for the Russian aide

to release me Ė

a renewed woman.

 

 

If only my lost Aunt Batya

could see me now.


SECOND GENERATION

 

And then they wheeled him off to his new room

and I tagged behind the tiny entourage Ė

the Asian aide and the cousin I had forgotten Ė

wanting to ease the transition to his new life

as a crippled widower, to warm the bed, to tell him tales

of the courtyard with the flower,

of the time I heard he leapt from the thatched roof on a dare

and emerged without a scratch,

of the candle and the bread and the newspaper

his mother would carry up the stairs

at the end of a long and weary day.

 

They all came to me at once, the old stories,

and the way my motherís eyes would shine

when she remembered him,

that skinny red-headed mischief maker from Vilna

visiting the shetl for the summer.

 

And then they wheeled him into the elevator

and I thought of how placid he seemed,

how easy it was to say goodbye

and how impossible.


IN THE COUNTRY

 

We donít know where the hell we are

when we get in the cab at the restaurant

to return to the empty dorms at this rural school.

 

Everything is dark, smelling richly of country

and there are 4 of us, Shamra from Canada,

and Alex from Wales and Luis from Teneriff.

They sit in the back together and I get in the front

with the old driver and his girlfriend, who looks

young, my age, maybe fifty, except for the teeth.†

Itís hard to tell. We know the ride is pretty straight,

nothing too curvy so it canít matter much

that we canít see where the hell weíre going

and the happy couple are content

to tell us tales of the Maine woods.

 

ďHell, I picked up a fare yesterday

in the middle of nowhereóhe warenít

from around here, all dressed up in a suit and tie,

like you people. And I took him to town,

told him not to get too drunk since

he seemed so tired, and then in the morning

the police call me and they say

heíd killed his girlfriend then himself

last night and I was the last man

to see him alive.† Thatíll be

four dollars even, please.Ē

 

Anywhere else Iíd suspect

he was conning me

but for Maine it seemed

like a fair price.

 


Hello Moses

 

This is your sister

When you get a chance

Give me a call

 

Hello Moses

Itís me again

I know youíre pissed

About what I said about your wife

Iím sorry

Itís hard for me

To let go

 

Hi again, Moses

Nobodyís talking to me

Just because I dared

Criticize you

 

I donít want to bring it up

But Iím the same sister

Who saved your life

Out there on the Nile

 

Hell I risked

My own

 

Moses, hi!

Thanks for the cure.

I owe you one.

 


 

A STORY OF JERUSALEM

 

It took years for them to meet.

Once a week she took the bus

from Mea Shearim and he

was the driver, looking

through the rear view mirror

at her long skirt, her averted glance.

 

Until he caught

her eye

and it

was dancing

 

And she stopped

getting on his bus

letting it pass by

without looking up

 

As if he was not

the reason,

she was but waiting

for something

more

holy

 

And he made as if

he didnít care,

looking

straight ahead

on his route

 

It was his style

and that

incensed her,

used to the idea

 

that hers

were the ways of pleasantness

and all her paths

were peace

 

and he

should follow

her lead

 

So she waited

for him

to tell

of the errors

in his soul

to prove

the way

of righteousness

And now they are married

and living in Tel Aviv

with two children

and her father does not speak to her

and her mother does not dare

and he is all

she clings to

 

 

 

 


THE CHILD

 

He wets his bed at night and in the morning

runs to the junction to throw stones.† What

did he eat for breakfast?† Who washes his clothes

when he comes home at dusk full of dust and the sight

of his friends (from the same bench at school)

fallen in blood?† Behind him his uncles

are urging him on and shooting over his head

at soldiers still boys themselves. In the kitchen Mother

wrings her hands and takes comfort in the fact

that her child is her savior, alive or dead.

 

I too dream of you every night, child,

small and scrappy and hard to control,

determined to change the direction of generations,

full of disdain for the days just gone by,

sure you can make it by the force of your anger.

I dream of you not as your foe, but as one

who has heard screams like yours in the night

and do not want to reassure you with dreams of paradise

for martyrs, as one who has grown up with my own

enemies and bogeymen, have known children

holding up their hands at rifle point on the streets,

walk every day with brothers and sisters

who died before I was born.

 

And in my dreams I hold you and feed you and read you

a fairy tale, a bedtime story, still believing I can keep your fears

from growing up true, teaching you gently

from your folklore and mine, tucking you in

and promising to wake you

with a new morning.