The Killers of the Fields

In ascetic silence, in stony skirts,
God's handmaid falls on her face --
Flash of an empty night, a forlorn desert waste,
Shards of sunset upon the rocks.

This land. Trodden, just like this, by a wandering sadness,
Trailing in her thunders, calling her: 'Where art thou?'
Speak to her, tell her of things that are other,
Tell her of fields that are learning to smile.

For it was your arms that held up her slumped head,
For it was you who injected her bloodstream with youth,
As she drank in the dew with noisy lips
And bore a tractor in her heart.

In the nights an oil of sky-blue anoints her,
And in a flutter of her lashes the grain creeps up…
Stars quiver like some fat candle.
Down the air
A garden

Then out of the far-off villages,
On the hills, like massive-jawed raptors --
At a desert crawl, more primal than any law,
They descend,
The killers of the fields.

The skies have congealed. Red Capricorn is plumed.
The wind comes, soft and submissive.
In the night the grain fields of Jezreel are ablaze…
Splendid are the nights in Canaan.

Splendid. Broad and boundless.
Eternity wings over desert and home.
The hermits' mountains, now so dark and high,
Are cloaked by a moon in abbayas.*

Only the threshing-floor decks itself out in sudden fire
And shadows are thrown without saddle or shout.
And the strange night tears off its veil
While the land looks on --

For destiny of old has not let go, no he hasn't,
For amid her quietude and the songs of her tents
He's been holding her neck in a lock since Vespasian
And brandishing his whip.

*  Arab cloak