Every night the jackals come
to the prickly undergrowth beneath this porch,
pulled open from Mount Carmel
like a drawer with an unmatched sock.
Their cry is mournful, hopeless,
a wolf howl more like weeping.
I lean across the rail to see them,
but they are not for seeing.
Only a gleaming eye,
a spark yellow-flinted from the moon,
tells me it is not this land of soured milk, tart honey,
where cactus, gorse, and other bristling wild things thrive,
A mother wandered
from the daily reinterment of her child
with the nightly news.
Her eye could ignite that bush,
could make it burn.
I remember the invasion of Japanese beetles,1944.
Burnished copper tanks swarming over leaves I couldn’t see.
Looking back, it was a warning.
Our city streets like leaves.
But I was a child, taken with the glint of morning
on wings that fluttered golden when they moved.
How, close as kitten hairs, they scarcely touched,
respectful of another’s need.
The reverential hum of their devouring.
The widow’s sampler of the finest lace they left,
so fragile, spare and delicate I wondered how it held them,
so eerily exquisite eaten through.
Bill Freedman is a retired English Literature Professor (University of Haifa), currently teaching part time and serving on the board of governors at the Sakhnin College for Teacher Education in the Arab town of Sakhnin, Israel. In addition to books and essays on literary criticism and theory and an oral history of baseball fans, he has published three books of poems with Ginninderra Press in Australia and poetry in American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, Shenandoah, The Quarterly, The International Quarterly, Dalhousie Review, The Nation, The California Quarterly, Cider Press Review, Rattle, and elsewhere.
Copyright 2014 Anthropoid.co.