THE DWELLING PLACE (or SCORING THE DEATH OF THE FIRSTBORN) by Lisa Hiton   Recently updated !


 
 
          Έτσι, με την αναμονή, οι νύχτες μας έχουν επιμηκυνθεί
          Μέχρι το τραγούδι έχει ριζώσει και να αναπτυχθεί σαν ένα δέντρο.
          Και εκείνοι στη φυλακή, ω μητέρα, και αυτές μακριά στην εξορία
          Θα αφήσουμε έναν στεναγμό και λεύκες ελατήρια σε φύλλα.
 
 
Did you notice the thyme blooming.
We’ll walk again with the dooming in our feet,
The thunder thunder of sole on stone,
Until our bones carry us back again to the sea: Oh,

We will not call it the sea! I have seen the night of the full moon
          Lighting the surface
          Of an intimate body.

Our bones will carry us to the sea and Oh! we’ll say, Oh!
Let us reach below our feet and gather the stones, the wants
We vault into the air.

The stones that are round and smooth,
The stones that mean nothing, as bones mean nothing,
Except when offered to the wishing well of time
Where, tonight, we have all been exiled,
Darling, let us run there to the edge,
Fledglings that we are, let us curse and curse and curse

At the thyme bursting open all over the streets.
There will be thyme for the chickens, thyme for tea,
Thyme for roasts and hosts of honeybees.
Do you trust this song as a gift upon the bough?
You must sing aloud what you feel is so!

I’ve lied to the Nazis, I’ve lied to the police. I have crossed myself
And crossed the streets. I sang Hallelujah! I sang it into the dark
Night, which opened its gate—Darling, darling, it said,
I give you a new fate: thyme

All over the landscape, thyme by the fields, thyme by the roads,
Olives and olives, toads and toads. The crickets
Have bandsaws for legs, but cut nothing down,
But you, said the Night, can be a man about town.
Gather the sprigs, gather them like hearts,
Sell them in the market, sell them for their parts.

Yes, I have heard the Night talking to me.
I will walk again in the streets of that great city,
I will again have two feet.

They call me the Knife! Lover like a young tree!
And in prison they made me an amputee,
A Boylston Street runner from that vast country.

Darling, they’re replacing limbs with dollar bills,
They’re checking us in to asylums they call hotels.
Sometimes the rooms play Wagner on a loop

In 4/4 time, the clef blurring, the chef
Who forgets the rind and the time,

This is no game, this is no lie, I have gathered the thyme before I died
And lived to tell the tale. And not just my tale.
After all, I had to sell it for something.
Some people confess and others offer dead bodies of fascists.

So boil the water! Rub the meat with salt!
Stalin is dead and it’s all our fault!
Shove an apple in his mouth when we get him off the spit,
Five sprigs for each limb will do the trick.

I was born first. Abraham without son, without God. I saw
The streets before they were streets. I knew darkness as itself, before day
or sun were. It was like being rigged to a ship,
Rigged in mourning robes,
Rigged up like a concert hall

On the Bowery, where the young people flit in and out of clubs.
They lick each other and dream sometimes,
But they cannot cook, they cannot sow,
They do not ask questions.

Did they notice the thyme?
Do they know how it grows? How it smells and feels and means nothing
Until you put it on the stove with sourdough.

I did not wish for this body. Darling, you have not been intimate
Or honest. Do you see that wild thing blooming
All over the landscape? Tell me what to call it. The concrete below me
And the concrete above me are silent and rough.
The metal bars like the ship’s bluff.

Who will mourn these dreams when I’m dead? The one about the moon
Where time stands in the face of gravity.
Where chicken in the wood oven falls clean off the bone.
Where the young lovers kissing are made of flesh
That has never been violated.
Where one enters the night through a door
And stays in the theatre, always.

And who will massage the herbs into the meat,
And who will throw the stones in the well. I want to return

As a phoenix, but Jews don’t get cremated.
How can I rise from this sleep, the heap
Of bones in a coffin,

If there is a tombstone, will you visit often?

After a while, you will ask for the time,
In the grocery store, in the car,
In the door left ajar

By your daughter
Who did not want to be naked, no. But Oh!
She has just been in the sea, which is to say born,
This is not skin for you to scorn.

They will ask you what happened in the name of the ghosts.
Her grandmother has been in prison for ten years,
And exile before that,

The screeching bats in summer fly low.
It is time to go. It is time to go.
 

 

 

Lisa Hiton holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Arts in Education from Harvard University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Linebreak, The Paris-American, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Denver Quarterly, New South, and LAMBDA Literary among others. She has received the AWP Kurt Brown Prize, the Esther B Kahn Scholarship from 24Pearl Street at the Fine Arts Work Center, and two nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the chapbook, Variation on Testimony (CutBank 2017). She is the Senior Poetry Editor of the Adroit Journal and the Interviews Editor of Cosmonauts Avenue.