Before the Temple

william-brassey-hole-samson-grinding-in-prison-at-gaza

Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
-Judges 17:22

My hands,
fettered in bronze,
turn the blind
circle of bread.

All night it grows —

There is no dawn
but the circle:
sweating through stubble
to raven locks set
down with silence
and silent prayers.

Humble now,
tied in memory strings
of stolen time, of heroism
turned to murder,

when they call me
I will be twice-found.

Modest amusement,
gripped by a small hand,
I will whisper:

I am the jawbone
turned to grist

die with me.

A Moment Without

small me / sweating after nightmares.”
–Michael Ondaatje

If there hadn’t been
a moment without
you,

I would never have known
thirst.

My lips are dry as dust.
My tongue is abrasive, unyielding,
each swallow forgetting liquid,
each pocket of cheek preparing
to crumble as ash.

If there hadn’t been
a moment without
you,

I would be unfamiliar
with the anxiety of ending.
Ignorance would guide me
into prayer for
gentle conclusions, naivete
would greet me
each dawn.

If there is another
moment without
you,

I will sweat through
the waking nightmare
squeezing life from
my pores —

I will struggle again
to believe hope
will quench me.

Detroit International Airport, April 1997.

[For Julie]