A Poor Christian Looks At The Ghetto

Bees build around red liver,
Ants build around black bone.
It has begun: the tearing, the trampling on silks,
It has begun: the breaking of glass, wood, copper, nickel, silver, foam
Of gypsum, iron sheets, violin strings, trumpets, leaves, balls, crystals.
Poof! Phosphorescent fire from yellow walls
Engulfs animal and human hair.


Bees build around the honeycomb of lungs,
Ants build around white bone.
Torn is paper, rubber, linen, leather, flax,
Fiber, fabrics, cellulose, snakeskin, wire.
The roof and the wall collapse in flame and heat seizes the foundations.
Now there is only the earth, sandy, trodden down,
With one leafless tree.


Slowly, boring a tunnel, a guardian mole makes his way,
With a small red lamp fastened to his forehead.
He touches buried bodies, counts them, pushes on,
He distinguishes human ashes by their luminous vapor,
The ashes of each man by a different part of the spectrum.
Bees build around a red trace.
Ants build around the place left by my body.


I am afraid, so afraid of the guardian mole.
He has swollen eyelids, like a Patriarch
Who has sat much in the light of candles
Reading the great book of the species.


What will I tell him, I, a Jew of the New Testament,
Waiting two thousand years for the second coming of Jesus?
My broken body will deliver me to his sight
And he will count me among the helpers of death:
The uncircumcised.

by Czeslaw Milosz

Comments (4)

Hand in hand they stand.I love this one Ernestine, I almost feel as I am intruding on a personal moment, I feel like I should haved knocked first, Love Duncan
As you superbly demonstrate, the best love poems are those stripped of pretension.
E., You do run the full range of emotions when you write. From one poem about the chips on the table to this beautiful love poem....you are so very good. Scarlett
If this union of yours is gods plan Ernestine, then I think it is a very appropriate union indeed. I hope all is well with you and your dearly beloved other half. Beautiful poem 10 from Tai