NIGHT FLIGHT TO THE HOLY LAND

What travels on metal wings tonight
along the sky's lapidary highways
knows nothing and all.
The clouds   like disembodied angels
float about in the garments
of their enigma.
Below,
the Earth —
vain, vain glitter of
the myriad fake jewels
we have strung around her neck.

Sometimes the same plane can carry
a new widow and a newly-wed wife —
their cargo of past
and future,
earth-weighted grief enclosed in a large wooden box
and winged happiness ringed by a tiny circle of gold,
both immeasurable.

Soon, in the back of the plane tallit-
wrapped Jews will
start swaying to and
fro like ghosts of
a petrified history.
Perhaps to try and redress the balance
of such incongruous cargo.
Perhaps to atone,
for the sake of us all,
for presumption of metal wings.


Ruth Kessler






BUT FOR THESE DAMNING SUNS

All those months peering into other people's closets,
watching other people's angels watch us with blank china eyes.
                 What we know of migartions will not do
                 to assuage the betrayed heart,
for all your evidence:
birds' habits,
virgin walls twin-shadowed in some future by our books and paintings,
strangers' faces tagged with strangers' names waking up
one morning our neighbors,
their blazing maple setting off our fall alarm.

But I tell you, look,
see
the heart's strings plucked from distant cities, other continents;
see longings' stubborn tendrils, climbing
                                   climbing.
Waking in this room one last time, repeat:
                 this sum of nightly destinations  =
                 a hard-shelled, empty-hearted nest
                 we can affix our name to   then abandon.
Then cross out that eqaution.
Write instead:
                 our tiny planet of persistence,
                 equal home to tables and elations.

One last time flip through this diary:
the empty walls, the window's broken views —
                 this threshold shadowed by a friend's confession that stayed behind
                 and joined the household;
                 that swing-set's rusty sing-song of bygone youth;      
                 even the dreams, disappointments, griefs ingrained
                 like crumbs into the floor boards;
                 even our lives' puzzle pieces in the crooked mailbox —
remembering, remembering after us...

Then close it.
Look back one last time.
In the final entry, note:
                And to think how we might have outdone Icarus,
                 how, bird-like, we could have migrated anywhere -
                 but for these human fetters,
                 but for these damning suns of ours,
                                                                            memory and heart.


Ruth Kessler
RUTH KESSLER is an Israeli poet and translator living in Rochester, New York. Publications include: Seneca Review, Southern Poetry Review, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Evansville Review, The MacGuffin, Puerto del Sol, Madison Review, Switched-on Gutenberg, etc. Grants/fellowships include NYSCA grants and Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships.
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book AwardThe St. Lawrence Book AwardThe St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The Adirondack Review