Selection 1

by Gloria Gervitz

beneath the summer-drenched willow only restlessness lingers

docile clouds descend into silence

the day dissolves in the hot air
green erupts within green
I spread my legs beneath the bathtub faucet

gushing water falls
the water enters me
the words of the Zohar spread open
the same questions as always
and I sink deeper and deeper
in the vertigo of Kol Nidre
before the start of the great fast
in the blue haze of the synagogues
after and before Rosh Hashanah
in the whiteness of the rain
my grandmother prays the rosary
and in the background plummeting
the echo of the shofar opens the year
into the gulf of absences to the northeast pour words saliva

and farther to the east
I masturbate thinking of you
the screech of seagulls the break of day
the froth in the dazzle of the wing
the color and the season of bougainvilleas are for you
the pollen still on my fingers
your scent of violets sour and feverish from the dust

words that are nothing but a drawn-out prayer
a form of madness after the madness
the cages where the perfumes are shut away
the endless delights
the voluptuousness of being born again and again
static ecstasy
more even more
don’t be afraid
and the photographs fading in the fermentation of silence

the unscreened porches
fever growing red in other skies
the gleaming verandas darkening with the acacias
and in the kitchen the newly washed dishes
fruit and syrups
in the swell of rivers
in the night of willows
in the washbasins of dreams
in that steam of female viscera
rising unmistakable and expansive
I leave you my death entire complete
my whole death for you
to whom does one speak before dying?
where are you?
where in me can I invent you?

Migrations: Poem, 1976–2020

Last updated December 24, 2022