Friday, 7 January 2011

A Reflection Off Job

The dead bee is dry and nearly weightless
one bundle of pollen still
fastened to its knee.
Its legs tucked in,
wings stiffly spread,
it did not mean to die
nor welcome its death.

It smells of decay,
but faintly,
and the ants eat a bit
of its wing, and then leave it be.

The ants live in front
of the altar in this Catholic
prayer hall. They have made
a small hole in the caulking
between the tiles and they
emerge and descend from
this hole in ones and twos.
Church ants, nourished,
no doubt, on holy days,
by communion wafers.
Will they say a prayer
for the bee while its taste
still lingers in their tiny
mouths, their clicking jaws?
Will they say a prayer for me?
The book of Job is
a troublesome book.

The Buddhists have their seima,
their sacred boundary markers,
sunken into the earth around each temple;
The Khmer draw boundaries between the
cultivated world of village and rice paddy
and the dangerous alluring forest, but in
Job, the Hebrew God treats the entire earth
as Her space, His creation—
its bases are sunk,
its cornerstone laid,
and the stars sing and
the heavenly beings shout for joy.

The sea is wrapped and barred and encased,
mighty and proud, but kept from the land.
Under the water, the waters that teemed before
anything rose from the earth—first the sea,
first the sky—and now we mortals kill first
the seas and the skies—we who walk on the
dry-land will go last, already the weakest among
us are going—the Khiansi spray toad is gone now,
thousands of others crowd the gates of deep darkness,
nearly gone, and we, we who have not seen the springs
of the sea, the recesses of the deep, we who do not know
the paths to the dwelling place of light and darkness, we
who cannot find where the east wind is scattered, we who
cannot guide forth the Bear in her proper season—
we have power, nonetheless, terrible power—
the power to destroy, the power to kill.

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