Sheep Leg
May 20, 2009

In following the waterway across the hill, York gum saplings holding out against the erosive sidewash induced by downpours, you come across the leg of a sheep, flesh eaten away, bones held together by sinews that have dried and tightened—the leg is seized in the moment of “fall to your knees...” It points neither up nor down the hill, nor divinely the length of the waterway. A sheep death under the old regime, a time when sheep kept the grass down and died to rot where they fell. Dismembered by foxes; strewn about.

April 01, 2009

As all the survivors of the ark burst ashore in a happy pandemonium chattering, roaring, howling for prey lowing to be fruitful and multiply while above their heads the rainbow hinted that there would be no end again--the end came for the fish without cares who lived off the catastrophe like slippery swindlers: now on the face of the stiffening earth the writhing fins were stranded and with gaping mouths they drowned in the air. Translated from the Hebrew by Leon Wieseltier For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

All the Rivers
February 12, 2008

All the rivers run into the sea and the sea is not full because all the rivers return to the rivers. Believe me. This is the secret of pride and the fall. This is the secret of the system of yearning.  

Eugene Wigner Joins the Manhattan Project
May 21, 2007

Hatred’s homicidal. Hitler knows. He makes what most men mean by hate a tepid sentiment, though at the time, no one seemed inclined to notice, and I wondered, When will my Hungarians awaken? I waited for the Jews to rouse themselves. But only slowly were they moved to anger; even then most merely said, “depose the madman.” Moderation’s suicide. A whimper while the butcher spreads fresh paper. Even in translation in the Times, he aims his hate at me, my family trapped in Budapest. Our decades-old conversion meaningless.

November 27, 2006

The pigeons here purr. They don't coo--coo like an infant coos, or cries, before it learns its words, or its way in the world--a string of whys and whos: the inquisitive mind, so often confused--which is what I was, by the birds' odd sounds--sorrowful, echoing off the rocks behind my room. But actually, it makes sense, considering how close they roost to that woman's house--the great artist's muse, the weeping woman, her portraits rendered so vividly by the one who loved and abused her. The other morning, I came home and found a bird trapped in the house--a window left open.

November 13, 2006

Poor summer, it doesn't know it's dying. A few days are all it has. Still, the lake is with me, its strokes of blue-violet and the fiery sun replacing loneliness. I feel like an animal that has found a place. This is my burrow, my nest, my attempt to say, I exist. A rose can't shut itself and be a bud again. It's a malady, wanting it. On the shore, the moon sprinkles light over everything, like a campfire, and in the green-black night, the tall pines hold their arms out as God held His arms out to say that He was lonely and that He was making Himself a man.

A Winter Night after Transtromer
September 11, 2006

The storm puts its mouth to the house and blows to get a tone. I toss and turn, my closed eyes reading the storm's text. The child's eyes grow wide in the dark and the storm howls for him. Both love the swinging lamps; both are halfway towards speech. The storm has the hands and wings of a child. Far away, travellers run for cover. The house feels its own constellation of nails holding the walls together. The night is calm in our rooms, where the echoes of all footsteps rest like sunken leaves in a pond, but the night outside is wild.

Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet
March 20, 2006

How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades, not to mention vehicles and animals—had all one fine day gone under? I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then. Surely a great city must have been missed? I miss our old city— white pepper, white pudding, you and I meeting under fanlights and low skies to go home in it—Maybe what really happened is this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word to convey that what is gone is gone forever and never found it.

How It Was Once In Our Country
March 06, 2006

In those years I owned a blue plate, blue from the very edges to the centre ocean-blue, the sort of under-wave blue a mermaid could easily dive down into and enter. When I looked at the plate I saw the mouth of a harbour, an afternoon without a breath of air, the evening clear all the way to Howth and back, the sky a paler blue further to the south. Consider the kind of body that enters blueness, made out of dead-end myth and mischievous whispers of an old, borderless existence where the body's meaning was both more and less. Sea-trawler, land-siren: succubus to all the dreams land has of oce

Nighttime Begins with a Line by Pablo Neruda
May 02, 2005

So my body went on growing, by night, went on pleading & singing to the earth I was born to be woven back into: Love, let me see if I can't sink my roots deeper into you, your minerals & water, your leaf-rot & gold, telling & un- telling of the oldest tales inscribed on wind-carved rocks, silt & grass, your song & prayers, your oaths & myths, your nights & days in one unending lament, your luminous swarm of wet kisses & stings, your spleen and mind, your outrageous forgetting & remembrance, your ghosts & rebirths, your thunder stones & mushrooms