Kinah
Aryeh Cohen
I
The day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed
Moshe was remonstrating with God
This is truly Torah. Is this its reward?!
and again he felt faint sitting
in the back of Akiva’s study hall
looking over nine empty rows
bereft of students whose
master was martyred whose
flesh was parcelled
out in the market.
and God said they are forcing
my hand they are running toward
an end that I didn’t intend to write
the benches are filled with those
whose texts are filled with dirt and
rocks. and Moshe, faint with the
hunger of unfulfilled desire
asks: is this the love of
Solomon, the holy of holies?
and Elishah saw the angel sitting
and Elishah saw the son dying
and Elishah turned on Rabbi Meir
“go find your Akiva now…”
II
The day after Rabin was killed
a young girl with innocent
hatred stared from behind
the fence around Daheishe
and I shuddered at her innocence
and at her hatred
and when the Temple burnt the
letters flew up to heaven
the stones fell and lodged in the earth
and now
we roll in the dirt and worship the stones
and so moshe sputters amazed and angry
“Is this torah?” and “This is its reward.”
III
The day after Rabin was killed
three men gathered in a clearing
with a fresh parchment
prepared and scored
dipped a quill
in ancient ink
made of ash
and dirt
and wrote woe and mourning
sensing the dread that was
approaching
God sat on the side
in sackloth and smile
wondering what had changed
and in the central square in Gaza
messiah, unnoticed, changed his
bandages one
at a time
so that he would not miss the call.
IV
On the day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed
I stood in the cool dark Lebanese night
shouting names of children,
A harried officer with tattered
forms and a memory
that would probably
give him no rest
responded
as best he could
“Alive!”
“Dead!”
“Missing!”
we woke with no memory
just the mark on our forehead
from the man in the flaxen robe
whose hired quill was in the
service of God.
V
The day after Rabin was killed,
purified by the mikvah I walked
the sandy smooth steps
of the Moslem Quarter
turning left then sharply right. I, pure
entered the Temple Mount through the gate
of the Chain. Turning right again
I, pure, paced off the area of the
Holy of Holies.
the perfect Temple of the holy
books now forced upon the cold
stones of the Herodian plaza
as the Dome of the Rock faded into
invisibility I, pure, donned the vestments and
prepared the sacrifice to GodManofWar
slaughtering the ram catching the blood
sprinkling it on the altar as if without
intent, skinning the ram son of Isaac
removing the innards and the legs
bringing it near on to the altar
burning it so that the pleasant smell
might satiate the One of this Place
and then removing the vestments
and gathering the sins I rode off
on a goat to die on the rocky cliffs of Azazel.
On the day after Yitzhak Rabin was killed.