Image by Louise Dickinson-Brown
Having dumbled through the two-hundred-twenty-one gates
trailing alphabets; having been conjured
out of the runes of the ineffable names of Jehovah,
the permutations of these sacred letters;
having been branded on the forehead
with the word "EMET" — Truth;
having been summoned to sweep the synagogue, ring bells,
this mome cumbers the table waiting for
the magic tablet to be placed beneath his tongue. With this act
he will rise, hurkle his shoulders. He will flinch
at the clear brass note of the shalm, ask,
maffling, what is to do?
The Kabbalist will hand him the broom, point to the aisles.
He will rise, the reflection of shadow
in his eyes, walk into the daylit passages, work until
dimpse among the scholars who flurn him, turning
with distaste away, to the holy
pages. Then, as darkness
begins to deepen in the windows, panic will fall
into the blank eyes, begin to flicker
until the old man comes to lead this oye of his lore toward a
closet where the tablet must be removed.
Calm will prevail. The gome will stand still
among the cleaning tools
until the morrow. But if the rabbi should forget —
if the tongue should keep its amulet — then
with the moon golem shall fling down his stick
of bristles, run spittling and moaning among
the streets, the folk gecking and cringing.
And if the rabbi come
to corner him, to remove the cosmic tablet from
beneath his tongue, he will fall like a clod
into the roadway. He will be carried, shapeless, back to where
wisdom is studied. He will be placed upon
the table, E removed from "EMET"
to make "MET" — the word Death
From an unpublished manuscript, A Book of Beasts, poems by Lewis Turco, illustrations by Louise Dickinson-Brown; the poems may be found in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007, Scottsdale, AZ: www.StarCloudPress.com, 2007. ISBN 978-1-932842-19-7, cloth; ISBN 978-1-932842-20-3, paper. Also available in a Kindle edition.