Today's poem is by Andrew Miller
His Dossier from Babel
She came to me, and I named her Hebrew.
Nor was there any question that she was lovely:
A wine white speech, savage with verbs.
I turned to my brother to have him listen,
But he had grown illiterate and sickened
With some kind of wrong-talk of his own making:
A weak broth of mumbles and pratings swelled
To barks, coughs, yammerings, until at last
Even his thumbs changed into fools.
So it was autumn at the end of Babel.
The pulleys keening into the dismantled quiet,
Voices here, there and then all at once
Humming and singing and gutted of speech.
The miracle made us a shower of birds:
Jealous and crying in the cumulus,
But it was a miracle: storming in me right to left:
A buoyant slanging cant of jargons
Opening their knees. They kept my lips busy.
And so on the ledge I tried to teach my brother.
I said stone stone stone stone until he bled
Behind his ear and slowly rose. He said stone:
A word he'd always known, now rattling
In his mouth like a bit of broken tooth.
I raised up my hand again but then instead
Said our father's name, said: Brother,
This is our father's name and mine.
His face did not change, until we both wept.
It's said the tower was made so that we
Might have climbed into the ear of God,
But only afterwards was that sin disclosed
What I recall is just that lovely work
Yes, lovely. Allow me now to use this word,
Tired and precise already from the beginning.
Lovely, sin, tower, stone they surround me like walls.
And in between, I hear my lost brother call:
A name and nothing: brother and Abraham.
Copyright © 2004 Andrew Miller All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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