Tikkun, Evening Prayer
Tikkun (Midnight Prayer)
The Caesars who built the cities
didn’t intend this kind of silence
in which trees tear up the air’s shelter with their growth
and the lazy moon journeys in the metastasizing dark.
With effort I recall
night skies clean as milk
This is their precise color:
the depths of a dead king’s eyes
I quote from a book
I won’t read again.
I’m not understood
by the words.
At some age
when you still wet the bed
and there is a father praying nearby, behind a wall
He is, He is. I am not just saying it,
he exists like an axe blow reaching my neck,
cracks appearing along the length of the air
and through them
The Song of Songs
falls with an untamed roar
“Here it comes,” the voice bent,
cruel only to the degree
that a father is cruel, which is to say
Syllables are burned in the throat’s reaches.
I’m cruel too,
but not enough to cause love.
The voice’s sweet fragment slips away
and in the mouth the Hebrew language
is already a whore
easily seduced by the temptations of distant exiles.
She is thick as blood, her kisses
or of death,
but all that remain
for another small eternity.