The following poems are from an unpublished manuscript, Nothing Remembers. This selection explores the spirituality and rituals of death (and remembering), among other themes.
For Irwin Gooen
…for man goes to his everlasting home,
and the mourners go about in the street.
The door closed. Clouds cover the moon;
the rain a memory blocking out the stars.
Desire has drained into the trembling house,
tools disused gather dust. Seeing nothing
out the windows, the house wraps dark arms
around the one in his old chair, quiet now.
Some music might have played, but his lovers
forgot the words and did not sing anymore.
Higher on the ridge, a lone bird calls alarm.
The mills on the river below fall in on themselves.
But apple trees still blossom, lilacs scent the air.
The oxygen tube shines silver, snapped
like a cord, unneeded. A pitcher of water
fell, crashing into the silence. At dawn,
a golden light suffuses the house, the man’s
body empty in his old chair. His fountain of
words evaporates off the wall where he wrote them.
The wheels have fallen from the truck.
When his friends find him, they lay him
beneath the stone he carved.
And the dust returns to the earth
as it was, and the spirit returns to G-d,
Who gave it.
nb: Kohelet is the Hebrew-Jewish name for The Book of Ecclesiastes
Originally appeared in print: “For Irwin Gooen.” Voices Israel Poetry Workshop June 2010. Jerusalem: Voices Israel. 2010. p. 17.
A bit stretched,
this line we pen between life
and death, between life
and life. Sometimes
our own. Sometimes
my legs akimbo on the couch
reading some poetry, a novel,
a bit of a bitter philosophy.
You sip coffee in the morning—
maybe wine, if evening
falls while we.
the locked cabinet we find as usual
an emptiness familiar, comforting—
vacuumed of emotions, better.
Like work and social
Something involving chocolate,
painted skin, holding
each other together
against centripetal forces.
Central petals of the flower
tight in bursting buds.
when standing, that is, seeing
them tired, failing to drink enough.
Glimpses of intimacy obscured
and hidden while seeming to
reveal. Grief in a game of
hide and seek.
I don’t know if
you or I will ever understand. This.
Perhaps I am in the psychiatric ward
again. Where I used to work. Or perhaps
you are in rehab, for your failure to drink
enough alcohol to fuel the economy.
such as these nothing can be found,
everything lost forgets where it lived,
death lives and life, well, you know.
Toss the rounded river stones
into a pile, throw some flat stones
skipping over water.
I don’t know if
a bit stretched.
where in our times we these rocks piled into buildings
that fell down a thousand years ago dis(re)membered from war
or earthquake raised and razed again into where nothing
recalls again the warm day anemones bloom hollyhocks
poppies forget no one and another rain day another dry day
pass hot and cold while an orvani drops blue feathers in flight
a hawk sits calmly on a fencepost and flocks of egrets
traipse toward the sea no cattle no grains all harvested
in this place we would call holy land nothing left to it but conflict
with the passing of her life that tried so hard to hang onto one
moment many moments missed so many more empty echoes
a difficult way to say goodbye to a mother watching her
evaporate like rain in the desert her mind dust that dries
lips her droned words faded as warmth from a midnight rock
meaning what the layers of history these rocks un-piled
reveal sepia photos a couple of tin-types dust school
reports cards newspaper holes the shells of bugs raised and razed
again and again into our times where nothing remembers
Originally appeared in print: “Nothing Remembers.” The Indian River Review. 2. 2013. p. 9.
Here is a video of Michael Dickel reading it (in Tel Aviv):
©2010–2017 Michael Dickel