More poems by Mordechai in our Spring Issue
and Summer Issue ______
Moon Song is from a cycle of poems-in-progress based upon the Jewish calendar. The first three poems in the cycle appeared in Spring 2000 .
The second three poems appeared in Summer 2000.
If you're reading this issue, you might wish to read the entire text of Moonsong in our Winter 2001 issue.
The Moon Song
Happy birthday lunar rock!
Birthday and almost deathday.
The story is found in the Talmuds,
brought down, as they say, by Rashi.
How your sense of fairness almost brought
you crashing to your knees.
Why you thought that your Creator
was any less vicious or merciless
than the men He created in His invisible image
is anyone’s guess.
Can two kings inhabit one crown?
A nice question for a Jewish moon to ask.
Such a riddle, begging for an answer inevitably weighted against you.
You want small?
Be my guest.
Your wise, insolent question cut you down to your true size
and ended in complete submission to your erstwhile partner,
a mere shadow of your former self.
Only reflect, my poet in the sky,
forever catching the reflection of your brother the sun
only to lose it again. Only reflect,
from your tale of woe comes all dependencies —
men on women and women on men,
men on nature and nature on men,
God on man and man on God,
parents on children and children on parents—
a tragic outcome is guaranteed for all.
So this is your birthday?
Dying monthly, like a woman’s body,
half fulfilled, bloodless,
yearning for rebirth,
full of cratered hopes.
By you, this is the beginning, yet
your children celebrate their ancient exodus
on the other side of the calendar,
half a universe away.
Month of bitterness, shadows, emptiness,
The month when Noah first sniffed
the blent, flood-free, blood-free air,
full of the scents of the future—
of rainbows, grape-juice, the tents of Yafet.
The month of the scorpion,
and, some say, of artists.
A month of not-celebrating,
except for the rain,
except for the bread on the table,
except for the woman left in the ark.
Wet winter days,
splashing the hills of Judea and
the dales of Galilee and running into the stony
depths of the sea of Tiberius, or at Acco where once the Romans
proposed a marble-statued bathhouse, in the Greek style.
Neither Aphrodite, not her Roman counterpart Venus, fazed
Rabban Gamliel who answered the questions of Proclus
regarding the former, only after emerging from the bath
and assuring the philosopher’s son that no statue, however beautiful,
could entice him away from Israel’s jealous God.
Besides, this goddess of love and beauty was married to the fearful,
hated Vulcan, generator of thunder.
Behind each light, the coming darkness.
Even in Acco, where the sun is bright, the naked Rabbi
would have intuited this.
Yafet can more easily dwell in the tents of Shem
than in the fields of Edom, which is Rome, the race of masters.
The Rabbis thought so, too, including Greek and Aramaic
in their Talmuds, but almost excluding Latin.
Moonlike, inspired Revolutionaries covered their dark faces
with spears of light, casting them forward in the shape of a candelabrum
under whose shadow, we light eight candles,
as though that sufficed against winter’s pushing dark.