Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Song at Machpelah

"Death Valley" © 2016 David Prashker
To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

Rivers build motion on lofty wings
   crossing stones
          other rivers

At the edge of the Euphrates
     Gilgamesh built walls
                    a great rampart
          and the temple
for Anu
               god of the firmament
     and for Ishtar
                         goddess of love;
the seven sages laid the foundations

At the edge of the Nile
     Rameses built walls
                    a great pyramid
          and the temple:
for Horus
              and for Isis
     and for Osiris
the three-part divinity

At the edge of the Zambesi
     Zimbabwe built walls
                    a great city
          and the temple:
for his people
               and for the generations yet to come
     and for the goddess of the stones
that swell the river

And the rivers built motion on lofty wings
          crossing stones
                         other rivers

But not here
Here we rummage in the soil for clay tablets
Here we travel in coach-loads to ruined walls
Here we transmute pilgrims into tourists
Here we wage war in the name of gnarled
     graffitoed stone
Here we spit in the face of the goddess
     and tear down her temple
Here the gravel roads lead from rock to rock
     and leave no footprints
The roots are burned with napalm
The cells are divided and partitioned
The seeds are sterilised with DDT
The rivers are polluted.

Scrawled like graffiti
     on the walls we failed to build
the histories of previous civilisations
          each one greater than our own
and not for what they created
     but for what was left behind
                         at their destruction

Machpelah is the double-cave near Hebron which Abraham purchased as a burial-place for Sarah. Genesis 23.

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The Argaman Press

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