Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona Desert

Arizona Desert

Something goes on here
every dawn, when they sing their hymn of praise,
although why He deserves a gift of praise
for doling out this parsimonious
distortion and prickliness
only God knows,
who accepts everything without thanks.

Something goes on here,
but no matter how early I try to get up
to hear that morning hymn of praise in the desert,
I'm always too late.
I come when it's all over.
The crippled cholla-cactus wives
have just finished dancing.
The proud candelabra-men,
the saguaras, have just finished singing
praise to the creator
for their meager rations.

Something goes on here,
especially at night when the saguaras
pay with bloody scratches for every drop
of prickly pleasure
after lying with
those twisted freaks, their cholla wives.
Nothing comes easy around here.

Late at night the snakes crawl out of their holes.
The wolf barks, the coyote curses.
It's a late-night bacchanal,
proof that here too is a slice of the world.

But at such an hour it's dangerous
for human feet to intrude.
They say that the proud saguaras
cry every night with human voices, praying
God, have pity on your insane world.

-- Jacob Glatstein, translated from the Yiddish by Ruth Whitman

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