The Turning

Unknown faces in the street
And winter coming on. I
Stand in the last moments of
The city, no more a child,
Only a man, -- one who has
Looked upon his own nakedness
Without shame, and in defeat
Has seen nothing to bless.
Touched once, like a plum, I turned
Rotten in the meat, or like
The plum blossom I never
Saw, hard at the edges, burned
At the first entrance of life,
And so endured, unreckoned,
Untaken, with nothing to give.
The first Jew was God; the second
Denied him; I am alive.

by Philip Levine

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