Poem Hunter
LH ( / London)


Is is not. Nothing is.
Est is not as strong
as Is, and so equivalent
becomes equivalency -
though maybe soit
is closer it protests too much
and flickers: maybe.
So I could think “Je suis”
But there’s no donc – uneasy science.
All I know
is what I feel, and how my skin
flushes or freezes, tingles, shudders, how
the blood goes racing
through my veins
and I am ready for
another whirling of the wind
that brings good bad news…
I am ready, am I…
Al tirah, I pray alone, while
others solid, certain, mouth
the Kaddish, this is death, we are alive,
we trust in God.
Er ist. It sounds so sure.
Sicher, es ist. I would believe,
but comes the moth
fluttering to reach the light
outside my windowpane,
is, is, it breaks its wings
against the glass and falls
silently, then unseen.
Then there’s Merced,
flinging her tasseled shawl across your face:
El amor aquí, she sings, but well she knows
not to sigh es or está. She is wise
and amor fugit, amor cannot fit
like a tight fist within a boxing glove
or twelve neat inches
in a metal foot;
whose was that foot, what king imposed his rule,
and where’s that foot today? Can we truly trust
perfidious popes of reason?
In Chinese
artists draw an Is,
in Greek the grammar takes an urgent tone,
in Hebrew, honest, fearful, find me Is!
please find it if you can
and comfort me with
figs and olives.
B’shemayim hu…
is banished… or ignored,
so let me close
my eyes and touch your skin
and you touch mine,
no doubtful verb To Be,
no Is for love and no Is Not,
just abstract noun and adverb
just myself:
I love, therefore I die.

21st March 2005

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Maya Angelou

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