The Broken Pencils
by Carla Conley
In that house, we didn’t start our work
at dawn when the lazy boat had only docked
moments ago. Night was a brief shpatzir:
a float of nameless purpose. There was no
reason to pierce a dream that wasn’t less
than dreaming it. We waved back to avrum,
to all our fathers lost at break of day.
We started in the evenings, well past thirty;
we were skirting something: what?
Azoy gait es! There are no answers now.
That’s how it goes, uncertain waters roam
the hard beds of conviction, rarely stilled.
“A writer writes,” the old man said to me,
while legends struggled from the furrows
on his hunted brow,
unwritten yet, unwritten even now
except in nightscapes: there, the pencils crack
like thunder, but such pencils have no lead.
Nisht gefonfit! Do not fool around!
An Avraham needs Isaac to become
a sacrifice himself. You have to give
up everything. Me redt zich oys dos hartz,
to talk with all your heart, you first must find
your heart. It’s drowning in a midnight sea,
it’s speechless: give it breath, force it to be
a swimming triumph: off the boat, to shore.
Well, one of us may want it so much more
than I do. But tonight, who knows? I’ll dream,
and should I see that lion whom I loved,
not yet succumbed —
Ot kimm ich, father! Wait for me! I come.