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Nancy Bevilaqua

Although some of the poems included here are loosely based on stories from the New Testament, they are meant to be read, if possible, outside of the context of Christianity, or of any particular traditional religious beliefs or dogma. I've tried to write about some things that are universal, and about possibilities, and about love.

Dawn, Migdal

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A sapphire dawn, and silver palms. Venus near, the earth
still charred and yet I smell a coming storm. He is sleeping
on the roof. I am too much awake. For once walk straight.
He tells me that I fear my star. He asked me not to wear
my shoes. I am barefoot. I am weak.
I need a nest where I can fold my wings.
Lions in the courtyard. They would have a bounty
on my blazing skull. Let them wait and let them wonder.
He made them drop their stones. I am a sail
on open water. He is still a stranger. There is, he said,
no sin, or it is just a lack of love. My brother watches him,
unsure. Fruit falls from my hands. Honey on my fingers.
The water spills but I will give him wine. He can stop
the digging of the spurs. We will watch the sparrows
rise, the morning glories start to speak.
The stairway up as clean as bones. I feel
the simmer of the enemy; it tries again to make me listen.
I am starry and I shiver.
I trace honey in the folds of his soiled
sleeping face. I wake him with a silent breath.
The salt around your lips. The leather smell, and sweat.
Sweet dense taste
of sun between each rib. Trees bend in the path
your hand takes up my spine. I crave, I drink
the blurry night into my swollen mouth. This mat we lie on
smooth as waters murmuring in dreams.
We are lovers, blind and rich in straining signals.
Gasp at the force. Now I can rest. There is no sin,
but there is love, and I am free, and in your wounds
I will see nests of doves, and at your feet
I will ever wish for summer.

Maryam, Mount of Olives Before Dawn

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Scars along the sky's hollow eye,
moon's breath quiescent, Venus
reverent, holding sunrise back.
Something in her belly hums.
Owls dive the hill's dark paths,
familiars. She knows
these tongues, but is already
losing all the others.

Just over Zayith, west
and darker still, catacombs,
skulls silent in the nettles,
stirrings of the third
of endless days of evil,
something of her love.

Clean cloth, honey cake,
a jug of water for the bathing.
A little of the water spills
every time she stumbles.


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Still slaves to things of time, and hungry
when you led us (license for the dead
to walk), ragged as a scene of dying
winter, through regions where the outcast
creatures fall, city's sins delivered.

Ridiculous to think you never
dreamed it, sleeping at the fire:
what a slew of snakes we were.


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Before spring's neck was broken,
before roots of unfinished love
were taken in fists
from that garden, swords
beating rhythm, before the murder
in ringing afternoon, he told me
how to look for him: Daughter,

you will not see me walk or breathe,
and what has been wounded and bathed
will not be me,
was never me.

Already I have entered you,
blessed the child inside your mind
to see how the field will glitter
far from the stone,
to see a whirlwind on the road you take,
lovers' eyes and ciphers
drawn perfect in red sky.
Dip your finger into air and it will blush
and move with you like water.

He told the truth.
And after, approaching edges
of sleep, rough roses dying all around,
hand on sleeping Sarah's back to steady
my own breathing, I felt a whisper
from beyond all seas, and I
took harbor in the sound.


(* "Voice" in Aramaic.)


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…string of stars, he said,
but every so often
one rings in a pattern for you…

..crosses the field of flickering
flowers, waits where the waves
come in, where I sleep, as each
is extinguished in night's
final fold. Wakes me
with your voice, stoned star,
beautiful, reflecting sun,
knowing itself as gift,
as my instrument of prayer.

Polaris, solar system,
and the kind of world we live in.

This one above me in the morning
Venus. Some years ago, before
you told me, I was too drunk
to know what star it was.

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