Meribah, or God Knows No One Will Ever See God’s Art
Before the lily-work and pomegranate
the walls of Jerusalem, shadows of the law
the wilderness to learn
her song as one uses a nation to learn
her power, moving
in the sleepy, in the deep frontier.
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,
the song in their multiply and fruit.
Capital felt like the muscle itself.
Song with no
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.
when all choices are equal?
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
as he made her say
I Am that I Am.
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?
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,
and tan children, a cry muddier than the quails at Kibroth-Hattaavah dropping through
seawind. A whole night
dead quails…and his intercession.
like tender thunder tumbling rolled
jitter of minuscule shoots
like Capital couldn’t wake.
melting in the tannic heat Moses
moved around in his life.
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?
Moses raised his staff
at zenith a sunlit shamas
over the rock.
He swung, he smote.
Here come the children.
gushed the living staff, flowering fluoresced
through steep youth cooling rust-hot years
only his body could remember.
the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their animals also.
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 of the cedar which sang
the genius of the art of death
so violent he could only breathe.
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.