Song of the Green Goldfish
Lento, the silken water in which the goldfish swim.
Lento, the green water in which the goldfish laugh.
How the sun heats
to the swift-swum goldfish circles!
So many songs are etched in your honey-fed eyes!
Why does the mirror disown its reflection?
Can the space of the heart still speak
after all this,
after all this. . . .
Embers flicker in the night sky.
O purple lamp, embrace me
in the half light of
fulfillments feared –
(are the words spoken mere shadow?)
(do the lips form words with bodies?)
Listen, goldfish, to the star speech,
To the frog-song of Buber:
the blood/space of our Mutuality!
O holy Sephirot!
O wet vowels of sun-dappled goldfish song!
In the music, the goldfish swim
In the music, the goldfish spin!
To the fresh-water, toe-shoe beat
Of your salamander chorale!
I curl my toes around you neck
And stroke your cheek with my goldfish tail!
And brush your lips with my goldfish tail –
Lightly, across the eardrums of your blind goldfish eyes.
Oh goldfish, oil my arms, legs, face, and trunk with
And lento are the goldfish waters in which we swim.
Lento is the silken circle of your goldfish song,
and lento your song, and green.
And green, evergreen. . . . .
There is the love and there is the letting go.
Father, I drank your chest like a suckling, milk.
And you, in turn, wrote the covenant of I and Thou,
Filled the still-water of my ‘I’ with
The chestnuts and swamp water of your ‘Thou.’
In the crevice of your armpit I slept by night.
By day I replenished my well with your tear stink.
How you keened your terrors into my lonely ear
And instructed the child to hold your hand forevermore,
forevermore . . . .
“I’ll never be alone,” you whispered.
And what choice did God’s angel have,
Alone at night and bound by Your covenant?
You did not loose and brush her hair, and she
Did not know to ask for mercy.
No time for play –
Too much surviving to be done.
An angel, abandoned in Daniel’s den,
Could it be?
Even an angel cannot climb the
thin elongated El Greco cry to Beatitude!
(O God, could it be that You simply mislaid
the radiance of Your child, Your angel?)
Daniel, fear the lion, Daniel!
Fear the lion!
But Daniel knew not to fear the lion.
And the angel did not know to fear her protector!
The earthworm is lovely in the earth
And the snail in its shell.
And you - distended scarecrow -
You clutch the hand of the angel!
My scalded breasts cannot part the waters,
I have never tasted the sweetness of honey in my tea
Nor plucked the strings of the lute.
Mother, I have no dress for the party!
In Daniel’s den, the furnace raged with a cold fire.
Didn’t he know that the furnace was hot and stuffy
and no place for an angel-child?
How could I play hopscotch or skate or ride a bike in a furnace?
Or hum a nursery rhyme for myself and only for myself?
The poem could not compete with the furnace.
The silence had been singed
And could not weep or even dream.
Only shadow fills this cave.
Only shadow fills this cave.
Can you hear the sound of a shadow?
Or rest a head on the neck of a shadow?
Or open the heart of a shadow?
Or placate the anger of a shadow?
Or grasp the hand of a shadow?
Or look into the eye of a shadow?
And does a shadow have one or many shadows?
Yes, I said to poverty.
Yes, I said to chastity.
And yes, even to obedience.
Yes, and Yes and Yes,
And emptied the waters of Babylon into my jug
To bring you drink.
O rosebud, ground into the gravel like a cigarette butt –
Where are your prayers, now?
The Word of the Mystic
A great stuffed elephant in the foyer.
Carpeted ceiling and walls
And sitar strains one hears behind the smells
And what is mind to make of eye-speech
or of the words that followed?
Today I wear my blue rhinestone earrings.
There is chilled wine on the table.
Your flute sonata is on the phonograph.
We will meet and do bills together.
For I have bathed in myrrh and camphor,
A legion of wants and dreams are astir:
Foreign armies on strange new ground
blast their trumpets,
Play cards, and carouse under a bored sun.
The edge of my dress, like my dreams, is aflame
Even as you knock. There are yet
new songs to be sung, it seems.
Of Encores and Bicycles
At the bicycle zone –
Zone of plié, jete, and grande jete,
I sail in the arrested moment. . .
Artful, arched, a coil
Sprung into air,
A feather burning its way through the atmosphere
It has commandeered.
My bicycle rests
on David’s tree
breathless and exuberant.
Sunflowers nestle in my hair
and the gracious green
of pine needles
stiffened with their love
and with shadow
falls to earth
. . . lightly.
In the quiet of after
my bicycle is broken –
a stillness in need of repair.
Now it bends at the knees,
humble before the adulation,
Indifferent to praise. . . .
THE moonlight flies past like a kite disappearing
Into the high wind where
LORD-a-mercy cawing to the cuckoo and
twirling over the bean field
IS oblivious, drunk, and strums an oriental guitar.
MY husband, Jew of Islam, plays the watermelon
and spits the seeds.
SHEPHARD of goats and of children,
I rest in his shadow,
SHALL not break the vows I long to break.
NOT for my sake, but for his do I
WANT to scribble over the illuminated parchment.
Poetry, by Lea Fridman
Love in the Blue Lake
tumble out of
the sacred light
where a silver chalice
hovers between us.
Beeswax, earwigs and doves-heart
fill the brain with snatches
of song and words
and swollen with child, splash water at me
and at you.
Under a full moon
she dives in the lake for a swim.
Oak - do you love me?
The oak leaves rustle and
a flock of birds like
a gang of old wives disturbed in their gossiping
Take wing of a sudden .
The oak strains and straightens
And a wordless wind with large and startled, painted eyes
begins to chant in the stiff summer heat:
Yes! Oh yes! Oh yes!
I scratch the wind gently as I ride
“Giddiyap!” - across the morning.
I am indigo. I am violet. I am pungent green. I am
I am a thousand colors assembled
In the garden of your song!
Here under the willow,
A pinch of cold air wakens
The blood in the eye.
Here, in the fluent grass
My ears, like my lungs, fill.
O sound, startling and wild!
Birthed of apple and pine,
Of brook-babble and tulip,
Of lightening and sea air
Where is God, sings the willow to the wind,
As the ear-fruit scattered on the ground and
Hanging from trees, touches the clouds.
Not God, says the wind, but . . . Here:
In the heart of the fruit, in the pit of the air,
In the very ear!
In the room they come and go
And speak of . . .
.and clutch at their bellies,
.and cover their mouths with their hands,
.and cry a lone tiger cry!
Outside an orange-hued moon creeps closer
And closer. Like some Vietcong regular in Nam.
No tigers here to burn through the night,
And topple from tree tops.
Only the spinning of a broken bicycle wheel
and a mantle with intricate tusk inlay.
Hear the low rumble of jungle womb!
Ecstatic arms clasp the steam.
In the wild of womb –
In the dark of womb –
Hear the slow hiss of womb cry!
And the moon. . . .
For God’s sake
Why can’t I see
The moon in all this brush:
Eclipse of moon song?
The flattened dishwater that fills my carafe
And tremulous colors of Lennox and Limoges
Erupt from my kitchen sink.
There is no sound that thumps on the flat white tile
of this aluminum kitchen.
No sun beats on the kitchen floor.
Softly,softly the displaced womb souls walk
through the wallpapered jungle.
Where is 26 Virginia Street?
Where is parakeet song?
Why is my soul flying away in the body of a parakeet?
No womb left in me at all,
Only a hungry moon chasing the pearl light
Round stop signs and rivers,
In closets and out. On thick carpets and off.
My throat is a great mahogany six feet thick
And my song, a single note that
fills the febrile air with its soft Bong,
Is softer than the broken chords of Cecilia’s harp,
Is softer than Cecilia’s flute.
O azure note,
Delirious tree of honey and of dark!
O sounding center of womb love!
Sing not your tiger pain or cry!