Sholeh Wolpé

Issue #
September 7, 2014



I’m an atheist, he says, but now
I’m thinking maybe there is a God,
maybe you are like the sea
Moses parted—

and he knocks open her legs, pauses,
scratches his chin, says, but,
there was a drought and the sea
was perhaps a shallow lake
the Israelites waded through.

Maybe you are like the moon
Mohammad split in half like a heart,

he says, unbuttoning her red blouse,
but how can a rock that orbits
this earth be so neatly be carved?

She stares at his naked chest, imagines
kneeling among tall kowtowing waves
like a centerfold Cleopatra shaking off
water from her long wavy hair; or standing

in thin silver silk on a moon that’s been
split and now hangs like two breasts
pressed against the dark body of a man—
a black man with more muscles and faith,
fewer words and no pauses in making love.


Two electricians argue in Russian
over how to run a line from a chandelier
to the dimming switch.

The one with long eyelashes asks
if he can play his CD on her stereo.
Argentine Tango, he says,
after the chandelier is hung,
the dimming switch tested.
You like?

She says, I like, and he offers
to teach the steps, puts his hand
on the small of her back, plants his eyes
on her breasts, braless beneath this flimsy
red blouse, tilts her steep until her curls
river the checkered tiles.

That night, she puts on a blue strapless gown,
invites in her dead lover’s emaciated ghost.
He comes in through the window, takes her
in his bony moonbeam arms, and they tango
like two broken violins in love.

Poems selected from: Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinths, University of Arkansas Press, 2013

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