Purim Spiel

from the Beloit Poetry Journal: 1990    

 Purim Spiel --a poem of hope
The elder, alter older -
a tree
alone with its thoughts

Of kings, of Isaac snatched
by the ram's horn
again 

the thorn 
burning for Rivka by the well

Between them wide as an ocean
white wake foaming

a cormorant with flaming tail

Fuming from the waves
its signature of white on blue
a warrant sent 

Against the world

    but wait!

the story changes...
Back track

the firebird on its flume
red tongue panting like a dog
In heat. Esther. Queen
of Persia prancing for her idle king

A worshiper of things
he lays his power down
upon her ceding haunch

And she, she rollicks in her duty
rolls his Majesty
about the gilded room

Until a tree 
grows in his mind    the Alter
Elder is at stake 

its point 

Can touch the heart and 
stop it

Cold, a twitching stick 
with eyes wide

As oceans, as the 

desert city
on the desert's edge    He sees.

Taking in at last
breath

the Jews dancing
for their lives
their purled queen 

the sequined 
Rider blossoming like snow
like the bloom of the dark

crocus below
The bruise under that white 

skin, a king's passion
pressed against her breast
the alter

Of his lust, her love
but not for him - the world

Lays itself before her
renews the pledge    To her

As with each morning
clouds mount 
the skies and ancient trees
will come again to crown gray mountains with new green.


Jacob Russell

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