The Consolation of Judah

We will sit on a wall and watch
as the hills of Jerusalem
beneath our worried boots
press forgotten family
to their breasts,
Dan slithering in the dell,
flashing fangs of Benjamin
ivory in the hidden light,
sons of Asher spilling like coins
under Yissaschar’s wise gaze,
burying the Mount
like an undamned river.

 

We will bow our heads in shame
when the myths part the mists,
brilliant as amethysts,
fresh as tomorrow’s morning,
untasted as Leviathans,
perfect as a fifth-grade friend,
their eyes still limpid gold,
from the face of Chizkiyahu.

 

Like gems in a breastplate
will fly the dappled banners,
like bright acacia beams
will their columns march,
as we suddenly notice
the mud on our soles.

 

But undeserved mercy,
the smile on the face of a mourner,
reinforcements from over the ridge,
are the cloaks of argaman
they will place over our shoulders.

 

They will kiss our humble tears, saying:
Though you were alone
and weary,
and your pieces mortared with hatred—
though your children were lost,
and you backs raw from each other’s grip—
you, little lion,
Judah cub,
lowly and empty,
orphan of kings,
have done it.