Jacqueline Du Pré Plays Bachs Cello Suite No. 1 in G
I am in the middle
catches me off guard,
on blade and flesh,
that turn of tempo slipping into loss
and longing, minor turning major inside-out
the way it held and released the light,
the secret, inchoate tangling
inside the dendrites of nerves
mistaken for the hearts music,
that riven fabric of ecstasy.
at the moment
But it was Auschwitz, the K and the L tangled
in the web of the word Konzentrationslager,
The Language of Water
Because my fathers grandfather did
not know his name he became a body
of water floating like a cloud
above the swans head of the Black Sea.
Twenty years of wars and only the word
Jew in his heart, he walked to a place
of tall grass swept with the broom of the wind
and took the name of the sea, Azov, for his own.
Because my mother was conceived from the flame
of a Yahrzeit candle, the hum of the Kaddish in her ears,
she was born with fire under her fingernails,
her dead brothers name singing in her heart.
In her mothers womb she learned to sleep
with the sway of a horse-drawn wagon, the fever
of loss and flight. It would not be the last of either.
Behind her, the first Great War boiled like a furious sea.
The brother she would never know slept
in the earth. Her grandmother slept
on the living room floor in a lake of blood,
the dent of her Shabbas candlestick in her skull.
Because I was born speaking the language of water
Because I was born swallowing flame
I am destined to dig on my knees in the earth
seeking the worlds veined taproot, its tender viscera.
There are too many wars and there is too much
suffering to hold in my hands. Too much death.
I was even afraid to hold my mother when she died.
And to think! I could have soothed her fever with the sea.