Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Near Morning

Cow’s breath warms his swaddling

a brood mare snuffles her foal

crumbs of prayer

caught in the mouse’s paws

the shadows of the guests

linger along the wall

though the guests have gone

A leather drawstring pouch

embroidered with dialect

bulges with drachmas

the scent of sandalwood

a costly porcelain jar

rolled up in the rug on the back

of the little mule Ham

sleepily nibbling her fetlock

hock-deep in snow

The man has lain down 

with the woman at last

It is nearly dawn

For a moment

there is a stillness

so absolute

even the stars don’t blink
The infant beginning

to inhabit his body

is startled by the cold

kiss of air on his cheek

by an ember falling into ashes

as sound as soft as the step

of a friend in a garden

a serry of torches

marching across the wall

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Poem--Joseph Brodsky's FLIGHT TO EGYPT

Every year, Joseph Brodsky wrote a Nativity Poem. Here is his "Flight to Egypt".  The translation is mine.

                    FLIGHT TO EGYPT

. . .where the drover came from, no one knew.
Their affinity made the heavens slate
the desert for a miracle. There, they chose to light
a fire and camp, the cave in a vortex of snow.
Not divining his role, the Infant drowsed
in a halo of curls that would quickly become
accustomed to radiance. Its glow would climb--
beyond that dark-skinned enclave--to rise
like the light of a star that endures
as long as the earth exists: everywhere.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tuesday Poem-Attachment


Pursue me, Hounds of Hell, with blazing eyes and already bloodied mouths.

Hunt me, Lord of Hosts, with an archangel’s harrowing, incendiary wings.

Search for me where I’m perched on the edge of the edge of the ledge of 

the tundra about to crack into the sea. Chase me over the curve of the world,

across continents of crags, cataracts, shorelines, river valleys of dry bones.

Through all Creation’s wilderness of thickets, stalk me, track me, race after me,

until I collide with the frontier’s barbed wire and have to hurry to hurdle it

so as to save my soul. Let me stop then and be astonished by the signs of life:

a field of mild cows, grazing; a garden ripening with blossoms and greenery;

the first house of the first village, the colonnade of poplars shading a road,

geese murmuring under hay barns, and mill wheels spilling all the earth’s

waters where I wash my face and hands. Let doors I’ve always believed bolted, 

open, offering light and a seat at the table--I’d thought I would never find

a place set anywhere for me or the unutterable darkness I carry, lodged inside. 

Here windows resound with birdsong. Plates abundant, when we take hands 

for grace, a hundred thousand years of grief fall away.  The wine glasses brim.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tueday Poem--A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto

Bees build around red liver,

Ants build around black bone.

It has begun: the tearing, the trampling on silks,

It has begun: the breaking of glass, wood, copper, nickel,

silver, foam

Of gypsum, iron sheets, violin strings, trumpets, leaves,

balls, crystals.

Poof! Phosphorescent fire from yellow walls

Engulfs animal and human hair.

Bees build around the honeycomb of lungs,

Ants build round white bone.

Torn is paper, rubber, linen, leather, flax,

Fiber, fabrics, cellulose, snakeskin, wire.

The roof and the walls collapse in flame and heat

seizes the foundations.

Now there is only the earth, sandy, trodden down,

With one leafless tree.
Slowly, boring a tunnel, a guardian mole makes his way,

With a small red lamp fastened to his forehead.

He touches buried bodies, counts them, pushes on,

He distinguishes human ashes by their luminous vapor,

The ashes of each man by a different part of the spectrum.

Bees build around a red trace.

Ants build around the place left by my body.
I am afraid, so afraid of the guardian mole.

He has the swollen eyelids, like a Patriarch

Who has sat much in the light of candles

Reading the great book on the species.

What will I tell him, I, a Jew of the New Testament,

Waiting two thousand years for the second coming of Jesus?

My broken body will deliver me to his sight

And he will count me among the helpers of death:

The uncircumcised.
Czesław Miłosz
(translated from the Polish by the author)