Commentary Magazine


Canticle in October

Grass channel or anodyne canal,
Nature thinkers’ various paradises,
Birds of saviour savour, Phoenix-flames,
Acts of conscience, lily-clothed, voracious:

Passenger pigeons of memory.

Pompoms, asters, double-petaled daisies
In rows on Bowling Green
Encircle curly De Peyster.

October draws a bead on Halloween.

Inclement soul weather,
Undertugger tides.

My Lord, a simple soul,
Thine Image in Thy Sight,
Bless me, hide not Thy Face from me.

Baruch Atah Adonai
Elohenu Melech ha-Olam

The channel choked with grass,
The canal dry and cracked,
Starved daemonic birds circling,
Wolves pale in the offing:

All dry but Thou the Source.

Blessèd art Thou O Lord
Our God King of the World.

At Avenue C and Tenth Street
A wastepaper basket’s aflame:
Speak to me, Lord,
From the midst of the burning trash.

Redeem the sparks,
Redeem the fallen world:
My God, Thy Hand is free.
Intervene, we beg of Thee.

The “horrible green birds”
Are chittering like madmen.
The rivers are receding underground.

No weather is soul weather,
Fair weather, in a fallen world.

Blessèd art Thou O Lord
Who makest us to eat by the sweat of the
    brow.

* * *

For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of
    living waters,
And hewed them out cisterns, broken
    cisterns,
That can hold no water.

—Jeremiah 2:13

_____________

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