Walking in Tel Aviv the Night Before Flying Home

My feet take me westwards through a soft white night of street
Lights low and gentle. Outlined high rises climb up behind the city asleep
In the shadow of Shabbat. Coming to the shore of the Great Sea I pass by
Arab families circled on the sand laughing as the smells of low little grills alight
Mingle with the sea’s salt scent drifting skywards. Girls in head scarves
Bob along the surf’s edge blurred in the darkness. Ah, this is where I end up,
My own limbs laced with certain rhythms, effortless.
How many tongues, how many cartographies and lays of land
Jumble in me, palimpsetting one on another and in arabesquing interlace? The sand
Is soft on my unshod feet. Around the shore’s curve
The lights of old Jaffa glow, soft, against the dark rising sea.

Theories of Time and Space

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion- dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stiches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp- buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry- tome of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you will board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph- who you were-
will be waiting when you return.

Natasha Trethewey, ‘Theories of Time and Space,’ in Native Guard: Poems, 2006.

Some Poems

Some poetry of my own composition, for a change. I can’t pretend that these are brilliant verses or anything, but I liked them, even after re-reading them. I hope you do too.

*

I nestle into her back, and close
Ourselves in, this woven little world of ours,
And of others’, of God: so not so small, yet closer
Than our softly throbbing veins.
This place we have made, we have had made
For us, this little land we cultivate,
Is cultivated in us, slowly grows.
We took up crowns,
Not as rulers one of the other,
But as martyrs of the heart and hearth, toiling
At a small new world, taking care
Lest we let the soil go sterile
Or the land be sold and be turned to death
Out from under our tired feet.
But. So long as we warm one another,
And hold close to each other,
In the dark thicket
And in the wide bright plains, in snow
And in fire, wind and wreck, all:
Dying to each other, and resurrecting,
In each sharp moment, and those tender,
We will weather it all, and better,
When we rise together, old, and new.

*

All of a sudden, then—
Sparrows burst
Upon our rose bush

*

Dill seedlings—unbidden,
Sprung up here. Still—
Winter is coming

*

In a flash, the beauty
And the majesty are here
Under this overpass—
A sparrow takes flight

*

But Your light is this place
And all places, no place, the living
Sap within the tree, the all,
And no thing.
Out of the corner of my eye
I see the edge of a glimpse,
And it shivers my blood to my core,
And past.
What would unveiling be?

*

The sunflowers and prairie grasses
Were growing on borrowed time, after all this, all
Our times are borrowed here, waged, time-
Tabled, clocked in and out. The mechanical
Hearts and schedules, the grey men, and the black
Suited men, from worlds that dull and buzz.
They sent the reapers, if anyone can be said
To have sent, all those voices passive.
The slow steady system
Works itself out, an endless tide. Washing
Over everything, scrubbed sterile. Yet
How I relished those patches of sunflowers, changing
With each week, and day, with the sun and clouds
Overhead, also changing  (and they cannot not yet
Scrub those, the further heavens). The strange weave
Of dock and bluestem and aster
With cement interchanges, the hurtling
Engines of our individual deaths,
Whirling, spinning by this patch
Of earth’s own deep flow and interchange.
Still I trust their seeds survive the neatly mown
Fields there. Things must die back, anyway.
And I trust that sunflowers, and prairie dock
Will outlive state, capital, highway, the bitter self
Commanding to evil, and the banal.
When all those things are forgotten ruins
Crumbling into the new prairie, the old
Glacier of those forces long melted,
The face of the earth, again, blooms.