Commentary Magazine


The Tel at Givat Oz

At Givat Oz today, we stood on a high Tel.
Where three or four cultures rust in gentle
Oblivion. Under a wrapper of fine winter hay,
All green and bending to the sickle bar,
A quarry of notions, antique bones, a glazed jar
Thin and graceful as a one-legged heron
In the Hula swamp, await the antiquarian’s devotion.

I thought, what diverse yields from this stiff clay
Skin, so slow to cede to the tender ministration
Of stubborn Halutzim: first corn, grudgingly given,
Then in the rotation a little wheat; that failed,
As green manure was plowed in. . . .

High, piped notes enfiling the border to the Arab side
Disarrayed our flow of conservation talk. From black hide
To black hide dancing, sunbeams ride
The grazing goats to pasture up the Tel!

Now, on stalwart oaten stems whose upright heads shake golden curls
O’er bending waves of crowded green, the tendriled baccia furls
Its pleasant weight of harvest. Four hundred kilo they bale,
Per dunam of the first day’s cut! Patience pays in Israel!

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