Meribah, or God Knows No One Will Ever See God’s Art

Before the lily-work and pomegranate
temple, before
the walls of Jerusalem, shadows of the law
Demiurge Capital used
the wilderness to learn
her song as one uses a nation to learn
her power, moving
in the sleepy, in the deep frontier.
the upper limit of music, discord
the heart of harmony. Scrub frying in rising far
sirens, giant rust of sands scouring scree, xeric
table boulders scotched to scree, striations
like hands pressing either side
of a red glass darkly the
rock-familiar, the folded voices,
sandstone, granules: the numberless doors of the never-ever
with its lettuces and salt. Art heard
the song in their multiply and fruit.
Capital felt like the muscle itself.
Song with no
melody, wind in the acacia.
Meribah, Sinai.
Creation and Creation
either side of the rock
limber up for expression. White heat nails
down the granite. Creation’s thirsty.
The artist can do anything.
How does one choose
when all choices are equal?
Categorically equal!
He tells 
Moses, Use your staff. 
Moses once wept to narrate his death eight lines
from the end of the poem.
Was that life? And it hurt
to hear his mind’s voice
as he made her say
I Am that I Am.
Cold stars of dew and coriander seeds, they spoke
through the windy wheels,
Capital with Creation, Moses
with his hands
of suffering, realpolitik, the frozen simultaneity of eternity:

Airplanes of the righteous shall climb skies of the faithless blow away. 

Is there no other way? 

Already done. 

What is the grass? 

Meribah: peneplain, rock, bitter mob, chlorine light of god; luminous cumulous goggling over the shaghill like dreaming water so bright
it meant. Moses’ hand on the
rock face strobing rough cubes of heat down his arm.
Watching cattle stir and the sick stare.
Three babies cried
and the fourth flew. He said,
Must we fetch you water out of this rock? 
One of these words throbbed.
The people throbbed back, dusty beards
and tan children, a cry muddier than the quails at Kibroth-Hattaavah dropping through
seawind. A whole night
passed gathering
dead quails…and his intercession.
Down the night season
like tender thunder tumbling rolled
their murmurs
never too far from the never-ever sea and the worldwide
jitter of minuscule shoots
like Capital couldn’t wake.
Wired in
melting in the tannic heat Moses 
moved around in his life.
Where were the children going next?
Meribah shone in from a crack, the people
shone in, their thirst for justice like water: clear and weak, and
angstrom memories that shortened at the height of want
like shadows at noon.

What is this rock? 

(wind in the acacia)

Does it look like a man? 

Does it look like nature imitating art? 

What kind of artist can sculpt in the dark? 

What is art in the dark?  

The waste places God hewed wide enough for anything. In his infinitude she had to make choices, choices that colored her thoughts—
but why choose?

Moses raised his staff

at zenith a sunlit shamas

over the rock.

He swung, he smote.

Here come the children.

A garden of earthly delights
gushed the living staff, flowering fluoresced
through steep youth cooling rust-hot years
only his body could remember.
As it’s written,
the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their animals also. 
He watched them drink and drink
up eyes shut, but who could read
his flesh, shorn to the last tuber?
His temples thumped with heat,
the cavities that opened for Capital.
And still the bony winter a hundred pages yet of an arid poem
and the dark blood we know by the motion of light,
gravel passage of his sloping
years, incarnadined by a moment.
Moses came to the pale of promise,
powerless to cross the gilt frame
of history or selvedge or end of the song
song that turned his ear like a key, purling garden stream of a song,
   song of the cedar which sang
the genius of the art of death
High at the end of one wind, lustrating over rounded regrets he looked back to the valley with a longing for Egypt
so violent he could only breathe.
And his eyes cut from Nebo
to the mackerel sky of Gideon weighing the holy land stone by stone in its depth 
of hills seeing flowers like Adam, yellow rosettes starring meadows
of women walking, children thinking in the magnetic embrace of hunger.
A kind of spatial prophet, turning from that other kind of sight.
The dirty Jordan.
Joshua’s 3500-year war and counting.


Lee Posna grew up in New Jersey and lives with his wife poet Therese Lloyd in Paekakariki.