"The rock wants to be rock forever and the tiger, a tiger. . ."

-- Jorge Luis Borges, in reference to Spinoza's comment that all things want to preserve their own nature.

If the tiger and rock had their way
both the mandolin and the shelf
on which it lies would still be trees.
The nectarine: a peach refusing to mate with a plum.
And the green bowl that holds it: a double non-being
in a world where blues insist on their blueness forever,
equally stubborn yellows; the bowl a lump of clay,
unshaped and soaked with blood of slain gods
never transformed to hyacinth or laurel.

The bones of the hand writing these words:
still attached to some far-off star,
itself a whirl of dust. This moment
still locked in solidity prior to time.

So what indeed would there be
if the tiger and rock had their way?
Nothing except a rock and a tiger.
a scene that defies the most fanciful eye,
a pre-imaginary world
without motion, without light.

Barbara Lefcowitz
BARBARA F. LEFCOWITZ has published eight full-length collections of poetry, a novel, and inidividual poems, stories, and essays in over 450 journals, and has also won writing fellowships and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Maryland Arts Council.