I.

It’s not an easy thing to die, it’s not
An easy thing to make believe I cling
To hope when every day my doctors bring
Me proof how sick my body is.  Yet what
Can doctors do, but sigh?  There’s not a lot
Of time till winter reigns, for by the spring
My branch will break; it’s not an easy thing
To keep a forest in a flowerpot.

I feel the autumn’s chill.  My daughter looks
At me, then turns aside to cry.  Her task
Is hard, explaining to her son that I
Will never play with him or read him books.
O God, it’s not an easy thing You ask
Of us, it’s not an easy thing to die.

II.
I’m jealous of a mongrel’s flea — this flea
Will witness summer’s ebb and flow, not die
In early spring; I’m jealous of a fly
That thrives in August and September’s bee.
I’m jealous of the smallest fish that’s free
To navigate the ocean’s breadth and try
To find an island’s safe lagoon, while I
Must use a raft which cannot cross the sea.

Don’t ask me what my doctors think, I know
I’ll never see my son get married nor
Embrace my wife when she is old.  I won’t
Enjoy a grandchild’s hug or watch him grow;
The leaky raft I sail won’t reach his shore.
Please, don’t ask me how I feel.  Don’t ask.  Don’t.

III.

So little time is left until I die,
Till executioners of darkness climb
The staircase to my room.  So little time
Remains before I have to bid goodbye
To everyone I love, to everyone whom I
Believed I could protect.  What is the rhyme
And reason for my death?  What is my crime
Or mortal sin my death will nullify?

I hear the silence of the clock.  Bereft
Of morning sun, day’s last few rays of light
Are disappearing as my afternoon
Transforms to dusk.  So little time is left;
But in the night, O Lord, my coming night,
Please let me see the dawning of Your moon.

 

Yakov Azriel was born and educated in New York, but has lived in Israel for over 40 years.  He has published four full-length books of poetry in the USA (all by Time Being Books, a literary press based in St. Louis), and over 200 poems in magazines in the USA, the UK and Israel.  In addition, his poems have won fifteen different awards in international poetry competitions.

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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2 Responses

  1. Glenn Meisenheimer

    Yakov,

    Every once in a while I come across a poem that simply takes my breath away. This is one of those. Its precise use of language and metaphor (which is also language of a sort, I suppose) stuns me. Something valuable will be left for your children and grandchildren, and for all of us still adrift on that sea.

    Reply

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