By Michael Lieberman
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When the mist settles, it is like ash, the flecks drifting down on her apartment. My mother waits at the window for a knight riding a llama. Small birds cannot peck at the feeder she has not set out on the ledge of brick and brindled mortar. She imagines she rolls her desires in a blanket, hoists this bedroll behind the knight's saddle, rides with him to the small house on Hobart Street. He waits by the curb where the ice has cleared. She is a young girl going to the closet, finding her sister has taken the white dress with the ruffles, the hairbrush with the bone handle.
A gnawing harvested despair. When the ice thawed, the Neva's waters flowed from you. Jew, poet, your exile began at your birth. Like fireflies, you and Akhmatova traced auroras in the night, spiraled in steeples of delight she suckled you, founder of your own great city. Still, in the end, it was your wife who boarded the faded railway car and followed you into the alien steppes. *** Page 24 When Voronezh squeezed the chemicals from your brain, you tapped your message out on the barrel head of night, created in form a land with fine contours, extruded a bleakness we only thought we could imagine, that had nothing to do with landscape.
Think of Silhouette overseeing the franc, fleeing the Bourse, leaving only his shadow for the doves on telephone lines to cast on the dirty snow, giving themselves over to tenderness, their outlines eclipsing the sun, forcing the light within to concentrate itself and pour out. Where will the bartering end, the exchange of one realm for the next? Page 30 The Condition of Being If only we were acellular, not prodded by heat, not in need of water and ions, if we were unresponsive to light, perhaps if we were moleculeslarge ones, say proteins, and only rotated and folded in response to rules, if we did not reproduce, if joy did not shower blindly at the lifting of large birds or obligation force us under sagging bridges with our shoulders; if we were only electrons seeking escape, but caught by nuclear forces, degraded by collisions, subject only to chance, not likely to be on corners during drive-by shootings or a constituent of coke or angel dust then we could hope for change, take a positive position in spite of charge, lobby for inclusion in a vaccine, save a life and allow it to remain in the universe of strange forces to undergo the pressures of being, emerge on the streets with a grade school education, with only raw need, without skill, to take chances in a gang or work for minimum wage in a world of movies and colored television, then we would be free to let the random govern, to be sovereigns of our impoverished selves.
A history of the sweetness of the world by Michael Lieberman