poetry


"Matriarch"

The children are off to bed, and though I still hear chatter,
I descend the stairs, reach for my heavy jacket, open the door,
and walk out into the night.

Red sled in hand, I pick my way to the secret place. There,
over a tangle of ivy, I settle my plastic bed, breathe deep
to let go of the day, lie down and look up towards the pine.

Her branched arms are all softness, like a feathered cradle
calling. Her trunk is a set of broad, welcoming hips.
Gone is the needle-sharp talk of the day.

To my left is a leafless bush curved like a grandmother who looks
into her lap in silence, remembering how it was with young ones.
Remembering how grace used to drift in with the night.

By L.L. Barkat. 2007



"Eating Pomegranate"

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Come autumn, the pomegranate
rolls its ruddy, leather-smooth
skin into the house,
submits its flesh to knives
or nails that pierce, tear it open—
like a papery dead-sea scroll
unfurled before a hungry heart—
spills its ruby blood onto palm and fingers,
splatters the linens like some ancient sacrifice
splashed against golden altar and
wing of cherubim,
stains our urgent lips with
unmistakable marks—the good news—
of heaven's tart-sweet, crimson gift.
L.L. Barkat 2005



"Caps for Sale"

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I walk through cobbled streets of quiet town,
peddle over burnt-orange hills, pass the prim white church
that sits flat against a sea-green sky,

Shout, "Caps for sale!" and hope that someone
in this placid place dotted with its four-point tulips
will choose, today, to buy a brown, a blue, a red
or grey off the neat stack in my head.

All caps still in place, I miss my lunch,
close my eyes 'gainst drifting, lip-shaped clouds,
fall asleep beneath a sprawling tree. Wake,
to lose my cool over monkey-see, monkey-do-
toss my own checked cap.

Turn the page to restack, revise towards East,
swallow my shadow back through town,
and boldly call out, "Caps for sale!
Fifty cents a cap."

L.L. Barkat 2005



"Mother"

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  I peered through rippled glass
This winter morning
And caught sight of you
Swaying feebly in the wind.

My breath stalled in little
Humid circles, questioning,
When did your raven locks
Retract into whiteness, when
Did your branches split, creak,
And dribble green youth like sap-

Sweet, crystal sap,
Poured out like the syrup of years,
On some grandchild's Saturday breakfast.

L.L. Barkat 2006



"Ignition"

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Who can say when sorrow
will glide into the heart
like some Trojan Horse
on wheels...

Today,
beneath a bronzing maple,
it rode in on the curl
of a lemon-blushed leaf.

The aqua windshield,
still content to mirror clouds
waltzing in an opal sky,
provided no resistance.

L.L. Barkat 2005



"Garlic in Seed"

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Earth's cloven-footed
ugly duckling
glides through spring
unbidden.

Greets summer's call
with slender beak
and breathes sweetly
across a lake of green.

  — L.L. Barkat 2005



"Pentecost"

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I thought
that when I walked out
of that old brick church
on Main Street,
I would never light
another candle,

watch it flicker
through cranberry glass,
wave across a glittering
emerald sea.

Little did I know
the flaming Spirit
would entrust a precious you
to a reborn, unexpectant me.

  — L.L. Barkat 2005



"Holy of Holies"

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Each face
presses in,
peers round
acacia pillars

Gazes
as I don bells,
light incense,
carry golden bowls
of prayer

behind the curtain

Each heart
longs for me
to rustle back
with life words,
news of Him,
tucked into folds
of priestly linen robe

How I fear
facing them,
empty pleats,
Zechariah mute.

  — L.L. Barkat 2005