Copyright (c) 1998 First Things 83 (May 1998).
Those with heaps of money, made
Or born to it, though they play
With bankers, senators, with generals,
Like gods to mortals, while they
Stroll in knots through crowded halls
Where others bustle, they are judged
Rejected by what they donít know,
And think because they can command
They are beloved. Not for long.
Time to stand up for the put-upon,
Who must believe the bad do well
Because they would be gods, as I am
Certain all of us are children
Of the Lord, but also humans
Who will die, will fall like rulers
From the high seat to a black hole:
Wake up, judge, the gods decay
And leave the earth for you.
Listen, reader of the dreams
Interpreted by Joseph, who led
Israel into Egypt, brought them
Up again: return us to ourselves.
However long it takes to mill,
To knead the sorry flour, our bread
Crumbles and the neighbors jeer.
Return us to ourselves. Why plant
These terraced hills with vineyards,
Cork trees, almonds, olives, cedars,
Willows trailing in the river?
Passing strangers trample down
Thorn hedges, pluck the orchards
Bare. Deer and boar root out
The broken fruit. Can you look down,
And not return us to ourselves,
The chosen cutting scorched, uprooted?
O unpronounceable that made us,
Make us strong again. We know
There is no going back.
Return us to ourselves.
God once smiled on Israel,
Returned them from captivity,
Forgotten and forgiven.
Now think of us, let us remember
More than anger, more than children
Heaped before their fathers.
Speak us peace, and all who are not
Fools must listen. Blow one kiss
And dandelions, truth
Will sprout through cracking sidewalks, wild
Puffballs, fierce and multiplying.
The second kiss brings rain.