Mudlark Poster No. 132 (2016)


A Crown of Sonnets
by Jane Medved

What is an eclipse
                                            but the need to dismiss
the sun’s constant shine. Which isn’t the light

from original night, although it can also blind
you, along with the other imposters of bright,

you know who I mean, those stars that pretend
to live past their time. I’ve seen them all trip 

on a piece of sky and still in radiant death 
they insist, theirs is the right way to navigate. 

Why should I trust a million year lie? I want
Orion to take out his sword and fight, already. 

Helios will only be confined on certain celestial
occasions. And without his glaring bag of tricks,

icy dust can begin to birth the comets, whose
velvet tails have another map of darkness to design.

Their velvet tails have another map
                                                 of darkness to design,
as the Milky Way unwraps its newborn constellations,
and lays them down inside the night’s configurations.

One rocky lamp is left to give illumination.   Oh moon,
teach me how to disappear like you and fool the oceans
one evening at a time.          I also want the tides to crawl 

into my lap and then reveal myself. It’s not the slow
unveiling, but the promise, perhaps, that keeps the flags
and poets coming back.       All those stories about bending

by a pool to see your soul;  it’s the tease of reflection,
that door that only opens in one direction, the gap 
between what you lack         and the slap of expectation.

                              And so the moon circles back to overlap
and please the eager face of earth that lifts in its direction.  

To please the eager
                                    face of earth that lifts 
                                                                            in its direction,
that fickle crescent rises first. Do they rehearse? The steps 
are different every nightly assignation. 
                                                                I read my horoscope
this morning just in case:         
                                                   Today you might get caught up
in the fray to support a friend. This goes against your grain. 
Is it worth it, Gemini?        
                                                But earth, that loyal planet, waits 
patiently, rotates, while gravity or maybe space convinces 
the mirth of spring to embrace February’s snowy girth again. 

There is no dearth of second chances. 
                                                                  Summer, full of Grace, 
will fatten up her sphere of plenty. Nature is a lover who wants 
only to amaze. 

                              And on the third day it was good — although 
the fruitful ground did replace one of the commandments. 

(A minor one, albeit, that’s fairly hard to trace.) And there was 
evening and there was morning, before the garden was erased. 

And there was evening. And there was morning 
before the garden was erased, replaced by all that talk 

of feasting in the dust, the taste of lust, and how 
there must have been something before need.

Do you believe there is a birthday for the trees?
I mean, why not? They breathe like us, only backwards,

lose their leaves and their blood is sweet, their roots
can speak to one another. Yes, it’s true, almonds 

always lead and are the first to blossom and appease, 
after they have crossed over the winter. Or so it seems.

The body tends to freeze and there are certain seeds 
still lost and dazed below. Remember. Written in the deed

of the circles that they leave is an accounting by each tree 
of the years that have passed, since we left together.

Of the years that have passed since we left together,
Of the plans that were not sown, and of the weather 
Which has nothing to do with it. Of the story 
That has been told, of the clues that are enclosed, 
Of angry angels blocking all directions. May they 
Be fruitful and multiply. Of the glass that becomes 
Known by breath that is on loan to the inanimate, 
Which also comes from earth. Of the difference
Between skin and leather, the many holy names 
Of letters. Is it the tone that makes it prayer? 
Of getting up, of getting up again, of the undertow,
Of the murmur of the river’s flow beneath our feet.
Of the water that tries to navigate by learning to 
Evaporate, which is to say, there is another way home.

Which is to say,
                            there is another way home.  
yesterday, I saw the beating arc of starlings 

who migrate to the Negev every year. It was late
and you have to take my word for this. They 

became a single body that exhaled a melody 
of startled scales made out of bones and feathers; 
a flock of notes that scattered to swoop and play,  
then reassemble in a different serenade, a fist of

sky squeezing its shape, or the curve of a swan’s
                   It was remarkable, 
                                                          how soundless waves
could cart away the distance, 
                                                  and how I forgave, 
in that moment, everyone.  
                                                            Which is to say,

that the desert is a grave and lonely place, 
where silence reappears as another kind of music.

Where silence reappears as another
                                                                     kind of music,

and the fence of rules is bent by the Divine. Once
I saw a play about the deaf and the blind, I mean
to say, the cast was both combined. I don’t know
how they did it, someone guided them at times, 
I suppose. It was my birthday and the price included 
dinner at a restaurant nearby, called “Blackout.” 
There we were led to the island of a table, then left 
behind to find our food in the dark, only our waiter 
could save us. You could say we were feeding on 
his kindness. And they stood under the mountain 
and saw the voices and the thunder. No wonder 
all those souls were afraid to be confined inside
their senses, so they fled, 

                                                  and left their bodies behind.  

So they fled and left their bodies behind. I am 
reminded of a man I met in Tzfat who died for 
seven minutes, but the angels said he wasn’t finished

and sent him back instead. He woke up to find 
his arms and legs had been replaced and were 
now synthetic. If that’s their gift, then I don’t want 

to ascend. But then again, my mind won’t bend 
around most of the endings, or imagine being led 
off to anywhere. I want my bed and the heft of my

breath, to continue being fed on dreams of theft.
After all, if time can steal, then why not I? Is it 
just dread or has the thread of my consciousness 

been wed so long to feeling, there is no medication
left to divorce them, only this dusty payment of a debt. 

Only this
                     dusty payment of a debt and yet
the universe begets again and again while 

we are held by the eternal neck of murmurings 
and nothing.
                         Let it be said:   
                                                 We were gathered
in the firmament.   
                                    Last night the yellow wind
cried and threw itself against my window.  

The air hurt.       
                        It was so full of dirt 
                                                             I couldn’t 
tell if it belonged to sky or had been blown 
off its perch of earth. 
                                       It’s true, the elements were
once told to comply, but they are more inclined
to devise a way around that separation. 

                                                                      You know, 
how tides like to rise, and cells want to multiply 

in time, then wander past the sticky net of heaven 
                              for chaos is a magnet, not a void.

For chaos is a magnet,  
                                             not a void, where confusion
is assembled and the star drunk asteroids await

their orders, spirits cross the borders        into matter,
and God’s breath loiters                     over possibility. 
Or maybe not. 
                         It’s hard to feel the formless pulse
of meaning; when time is not deployed, there is 

no lack to ferment, no pull to regret.        How do I 
navigate you, Lord? 
                                           I call you The Great Name, 
but you are also A Place to enter         or avoid, depending

on the daily constellation of these yearnings, my desire 
to find that restless harbor where creation resides

beyond geometry of reason,           beyond calculation
of each season, when to fix             the hours with light

and when to let need dismiss the sun’s constant shine. 

Jane Medved’s chapbook Olam, Shana, Nefesh was released by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Her recent essays and poems have appeared in Lilith Magazine, Cimarron Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly. and New American Writing. She is the poetry editor of The Ilanot Review, the on-line literary magazine of Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv. A native of Chicago, Illinois, she has lived for the last 25 years in Jerusalem, Israel.

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