'Our Lights are Yellow and Theirs are White'
Our Lights are Yellow and Theirs Are White
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
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
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.)