National Poetry Month: HEBREW LESSON: LICHBOSH by Marcela Sulak
Hebrew Lesson: Lichbosh
by Marcela Sulak
To conquer, occupy, preserve
Before bowls and jugs existed
there were clay walls around
means fragment, and sometimes,
it means moon. How to enter it
is crucial. Wise to have spies when you’re circling perfection
that isn’t your own: The woman, the innkeeper Rehab,
plunged her nail to its half-moon
into the belly of a fig. She looked up and said, Remember me and my family,
as if she were tethered
by scarlet threads to a longing that well-furnished orchards can’t fill.
At the border of the Promised
Land, the men occupy
front row seats each night,
weeping silently. You
have ravished my heart my sister,
my bride you have ravished with one glance of your eyes, with one
jewel of your necklace, they say, meaning you can go now.
What would you have them do?
Everyone hungers, especially for hunger. Jericho: belly of an old bowl,
drain of ancient sinks, the
air shimmering with sheaves of wheat, barley, peas pinging into plates,
and palms. Two thousand years later,
in the city of psalms,
a woman said I’m
tired as David picked her
up. They had drinks. He took her home.
She got undressed, walked into his bedroom and lay down. She
just lay there, as if she were asleep. You can’t just lie there
waiting to get serviced
with David, as if you were Denmark afer Germany invaded. The problem
with beautiful girls is
that they always end up peasants on the land they once possessed.
Tamar, who studied dancing on
the knuckles of desire,
finally got her own.
Though her face covered
like a whore. How readily Judah
had given up staff and seal. Oh little boys inside your
mother’s lovely womb, your mother’s a sentence she can’t stand
to have completed. Your
mother is one line of an unrhymed couplet, three unrhymed. Did you think you could just break
enter and leave without
a trace, Judah? No one can. Now the Israeli intelligence
seduction program is trying
to recruit female spies
with its pragmatic
name, honeytrap. Rabbis
across the land sanction them to
abandon children and chicken soup, to sleep in virile
arms of strangers, and here’s the thing. Like Tamar, all David’s
second wife wanted in
the end, after the parties, the unbelievable toys, was a baby. Isn’t that
all any of us want,
to possess what someone else desires, be what someone else
desires? Those breasts like figs
an emphatic tongue.
It is an old story:
How Xerxes, the defeated King,
ordered figs from Attica be served to him at every
meal to remind him that he no longer possessed the land
on which they grew.
This poem is from issue 39.1. You may purchase a copy here.