Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sennacherib

Why should the hundredth not fall?
Every other has, each of the ninety nine others. Months
bring nothing new but fresh failures and old seasons
as slow and certain as the changing tide.
What do we have? stone? As if the others lacked shields or any
defense sprung from marriages of mind and matter.
We have it all. We have nothing.
They asked us,

Where is this confidence of yours? The Lord himself
marches beside us.

And we all wept, perched on the wall, weeping,
because the words they were speaking we understood.
We shuddered in the cold of their meaning
like frozen pheasants on high desert walls.

Do not be mislead when it’s said, The Lord will deliver.
Your hope is like the tinder of all of your brothers,
the twigs from which each of the ninety-nine other
gods were once beautifully carved.

I could feel the twitch itching in each of our skins
under the shudder created by icy and alien tongues, to cry:
Wood! Our God! Would you were mad, we could spare you—

recalling Hezekiah, bit burning tongues down.
But we, though proud, though feeling like one
man in our love’s little flame, eyed the high backs
of their dust- and blood-colored robes, and were ashamed
of the battle kindled by the question
raging between each of our ribs.
Why should the hundredth not fall?