Issue 188, Spring 2009
and returned in an Arabian container ship,
all small worlds will be dashed and drowned.
I witnessed this deliverance on a silent television,
my fingers disquieted a bowl of almonds,
a librarian called to say Constantinople is on hold.
The entire surface trembled, an oscillation
like a bell. When the seismologist said the Eurasian plate
“delivered a blow to our planet,” his words
were almost enough to renew our belief
in the earth’s roundness, the tidal sugars and salts
of our bodies, the atonement of death-camp clerks.
When I was a child, I discovered my depravity
among the other boys—but we were sanguine all the same,
with the fortitude to face what we’d found.
So now, led to abandon the world
for word of the world’s moments,
one must be cautious and deliberate.
I had a dream—high-water marks on the side
of my house, the aftermath of a deluge
rising from a spring in the cellar.
I didn’t realize the floodwaters would recede
with the violence of their rising, fishing boats
torn from moorings, dome of the mosque collapsed.
You who savor the scent of the linden
live in a small world, and I also speak
from a cramped provisional space.
On the stacked ship they videotaped
as they passed, then circled back to pluck
a single man from floating debris—
I witnessed this alone on a glowing screen,
I couldn’t lift an almond to my mouth,
I was a fallow field ruined by brackish flood,
but I would choose the wave over the wind,
I would swamp your world with wreckage,
I would hold fast to you, and you would be saved.