Jeffrey Levine

Issue #
September 6, 2013

Getting It Right

You find the scudding base of familiar sky
in a saint about to fall, cool in your vows in country sleep,
woe dripping mud hatching
ship-work and chucked bells, a blood-
counting clock, face of hands, but then

your own son, your very own mud-hatched
ship-work told you once when he was barely
old enough for language that the breath
draws back like a bolt through white oil and
a stranger enters like iron, or you could swear
he did, out of his own mouth,
and something rings like the endless
beginning of prodigies, now you could swear to it.

Hold on. It’s not impossible to surprise dark matter
into glowing like a bolt though white oil, hold
these chucked bells, toll the scudding base of sky,
boundless, without a trace of wind, perfectly smooth,
the sand barely spun.

Let no one set foot here. No one else.
The translucent air of winter at noon, and in it, the pure
nothingness is full of birds.

A thousand and one sea gulls poised
on a shoal of white sand between the earth
and the watery parts of the world, which is why
Rabbi Joshua ben Karkha says, “Didn’t you know
that your son was mortal and would die?”

The noise, a slight vibration, of mortal silence.
This the sound that allows the gulls to breathe
sunlight, their thousand and one white breasts turned
like yours, toward the light.
This the ceremony in the absence of a witness,
in furtive contemplation, man is not authorized
to attend this unknowing. A look –

The gulls sense the slightest glance – and all is scattered.
Like the one where the boy says,
I move the camera and your life comes out of you in colors,
I move it again, it goes back in.

If only for a last time, gets it right.

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