poetry

'Our Lights are Yellow and Theirs are White'

Our Lights are Yellow and Theirs Are White

 

 

א

 

He came to me from Ashkelon

On a blue desert wind, 

Drowned with desert music 

Of mermaids on the rocks,

In a land blurred at the edges,

In rainbow womb and arms of Khat

 

And all the world had already ended, 

And all that was left was dust,

And penetration of crescent moon:

I tasted it salt on my lips, 

Red dust of nothingness.

First star in darkling sky-

His gun and red scars on his hips-

He came to me from Ashkelon,

 

And like my father’s ships

He went away with the white wind

 

 

ב

 

When we sinned our first sweet screaming sin,

Never had I fallen a fall so like flying

 

On the wings of your ribcage-

High above the sibilance of spine-

We broke flesh together,

On the burning altar of you.

 

Batter my heart with your promiscuous lips

And leave me bleeding. I want you

To walk away.

It’s the only way to force me to follow.

 

We sinned our first sweet screaming sin

And with no weeping

I sent the firstborn of my innocence sailing down the Nile

 

 

ג

 

In Jerusalem the church-bells are ringing.

In Jerusalem the church-bells are screaming

Over the desert of our wandering 

The mermaids on the rocks are calling, 

Calling across sea through grey rain

To church-bells screaming through London’s streets

And the wet slap of the Thames

On stony banks is singing,

 

Singing your song for you,

Your song of the wind that was red

Like your lips- bloody now- 

Like the scars on your hips

That bled on my sheets and joined my own blood

On that consecrated bed.

 

In Jerusalem in London the bells are calling

Bells and blue sirens calling,

Calling me to pray

 

By the waters of Southbank I’ll sit down and pray.

 

Your face was soft in the Midas light

Of our last morning. 

I hope your white wind is kind to you. And

 

May stars be your candles, your celestial stones and 

The moonlight the tallit shawl, the fig-leaves for your 

Naked soul and

 

I hope the desert closes your deserted eyes

And the music of the moon in the language 

We never understood is a blessing, is a prayer

To our fathers’ God that you didn’t believe in. And 

 

In the alchemical stillness

Of our last morning, you laughed

I knelt I blessed you cursed

The same one God as they do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(N.B- ‘khat’ is a type of drug ‘used’ by chewing leaves; according to Jewish tradition mourners should place stones rather than flowers on graves; a ‘tallit shawl’ is a Jewish prayer shawl that men are customarily buried in.)

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol