Poetry by Nils Clausson
 

Poetics
by Shunit Mor-Barak

The Ravages of the Ages

The ages flowed around us like the steam of a trainís heavy plume,
the scent of a week-old flower on a hundred-year old vine,
and the ashes of those long dead whose lusts and memories
we walked upon and looked upon as if they were our own.

Hold my hand now.

I see myself in you like coral dying forever on the skeletal back of a shipwreck.
You said, ďMaybe this time we could be to each other what we were meant to be,Ē
thinking of us reflected in stone statues too old and tired to speak
and tapestries that filled the rooms with ancient echoes of half-forgotten music.

And I shrugged, and smiled,

thinking of you with a knife to my neck in the back-streets of old Lyon,
of you lifting me to your shoulders when my tiny legs were too tired
to climb the Spanish Steps in Rome, of your church-glass blue eyes wide open
on the other side of the bus window in Paris, looking at me as if we werenít strangers,

and we grew old so slowly we could feel it.

Hold me to you now like a lover.
I see myself in you like the last barefoot child in a crumbling temple,
dedicated to a dying god,
clinging to the living stone against the ravages of the ages.

Or If you Prefer Shakespeare

I make myself the natural
for you,
for me,
and kneeling in a field of poppies,
grip the nape with both my hands
undress my skin
along the seams.

And then you say,
that itís not what you meant,
and then you say,
it was only a song.

But still I grasp and pull apart
my ribs with both hands
to separate
what is not me
from what
is not me.
And still you say, please.

Youíre asking for
I donít know what;
you call it an idea.
You call my breasts ideas,
and you call my eyes ideas
and you call the birthmark on my thighs
an idea.

I donít get all that, but I get this:
Iím tearing apart my ideas,
here among the poppies,
where the sun is shining
and the sun is an idea,
and the clover is spilling over,
and thatís an idea too.

And hereís the idea of my heart,
or, if you prefer Shakespeare,
my spleen is down below.

My Yehonatan

More wonderful was your love than the love of women my Yehonatan
his hair is myrrh and ashes his throat a white pillar
under the new moon we promised the grasses swayed the boulders sang
my lute which made the boulders sing I played for you and God
you are dearer than my own soul my Yehonatan
he turned his eyes away he laughed he showed his teeth sharp as any sword

Beneath the living God he stripped off robe and sword he laid them at my feet
I would have killed a thousand Pelishtim for you I would have laid their foreskins
at your feet
under the new moon under the living God
I swore a covenant between his seed and mine for all time
between his seed and mine under the new moon under the full moon
under any moon
his breath smelled of honey he knelt naked in the swaying grasses
he held my hands
you are dearer than my own soul my Yehonatan
he turned his eyes away and laughed

More wonderful was your love than the love of women my Yehonatan
the Pelishtim severed his head they stripped off his armor
I would have killed a thousand Pelishtim I would have laid their foreskins at your feet
his body fastened to the wall of Bet-shan the rope drawn taught
he turned his eyes away his teeth sharp as any sword
we cut his naked body from the wall of Bet-shan we carried my Yehonatan
we came to Yavesh and burnt him there his hair is ash and myrrh
we walked all night we carried my Yehonatan
more wonderful was his love than the love of women

We took his bones we buried them under a tamarisk tree under the dry earth
we buried his bones at Yavesh his teeth sharp as any sword
I tore my clothes I stripped off robe and sword and laid it at your feet I rubbed
dry earth and ash into my hair
I knelt naked in the swaying grass under the new moon I promised
under any moon
I swore a covenant between his seed and mine
his body fastened to the wall of Bet-shan the rope drawn taught I would have laid their foreskin at his feet
I would have killed I turned my eyes away
we walked all night we carried my Yehonatan.

   

©2001 Shunit Mor-Barak

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