I know a man
who photographed the view he saw
from the window of the room where he made love
and not the face of the woman he loved there.
The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.
Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,
and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.
In a modern museum
In an old synagogue
In the synagogue
Within my heart
Within a museum
Within my heart
“What kind of a person are you,” I heard them say to me.
I’m a person with a complex plumbing of the soul,
Sophisticated instruments of feeling and a system
Of controlled memory at the end of the twentieth century,
But with an old body from ancient times
And with a God even older than my body.
I’m a person for the surface of the earth.
Low places, caves and wells
Frighten me. Mountain peaks
And tall buildings scare me.
I’m not like an inserted fork,
Not a cutting knife, not a stuck spoon.
I’m not flat and sly
Like a spatula creeping up from below.
At most I am a heavy and clumsy pestle
Mashing good and bad together
For a little taste
And a little fragrance.
Arrows do not direct me. I conduct
My business carefully and quietly
Like a long will that began to be written
The moment I was born.
s Now I stand at the side of the street
Weary, leaning on a parking meter.
I can stand here for nothing, free.
I’m not a car, I’m a person,
A man-god, a god-man
Whose days are numbered. Hallelujah.
Once a great love cut my life in two.
The first part goes on twisting
at some other place like a snake cut in two.
The passing years have calmed me
and brought healing to my heart and rest to my eyes.
And I’m like someone standing in the Judean desert, looking at a sign:
He cannot see the sea, but he knows.
Thus I remember your face everywhere
at your ‘face Level.’
I passed by the school where I studied as a boy
and said in my heart: here I learned certain things
and didn’t learn others. All my life I have loved in vain
the things I didn’t learn. I am filled with knowledge,
I know all about the flowering of the tree of knowledge,
the shape of its leaves, the function of its root system, its pests and parasites.
I’m an expert on the botany of good and evil,
I’m still studying it, I’ll go on studying till the day I die.
I stood near the school building and looked in. This is the room
where we sat and learned. The windows of a classroom always open
to the future, but in our innocence we thought it was only landscape
we were seeing from the window.
The schoolyard was narrow, paved with large stones.
I remember the brief tumult of the two of us
near the rickety steps, the tumult
that was the beginning of a first great love.
Now it outlives us, as if in a museum,
like everything else in Jerusalem.
The little park planted in memory of a boy
who fell in the war begins
to resemble him
as he was twenty eight years ago.
Year by year they look more alike.
His old parents come almost daily
to sit on a bench
and look at him.
And every night the memory in the garden
hums like a little motor.
During the day you can’t hear it.