By Morani Kornberg-Weiss
You say the city is thriving.
“It’s never been better.” That it’s none of our business.
“Don’t be so naïve” you insist.
The skyscrapers are scratching the sun.
New roads paved into meadows.
High mortality rates.
Like measuring morality
with a thumb.
Press it to the wall and count the creases.
Quantify pain from zero to ten:
Zero: I have nothing to say to you.
My four is your eight.
My arm is on fire.
It started before I was born.
Look, the city is growing.
This isn’t complex or subjective.
The alarming signal
is moderately unbearable.
I’m exhausted too.
The fear of pain is greater than the fear of death
and I’m confused about God.
My mind is dull clouded with burden.
The fear of knowledge is greater than the fear of pain.
God moved into that building.
God lives on the twelfth floor.
God saw the city ablaze and yelled:
“Children, behind you!”
The boy’s face hit the cold stone
pavement near a holy site.
When prophets walk on this land everything is holy.
My thumb is stuck on plaster.
My pain now a two.
My two is your eight. I’m sorry
we don’t feel the same way about this but God
is knocking on my door and God needs sugar.
It is early and we are going into the great nothingness.
The tender throbbing shooting in my legs
dull cutting a tight tingle.
There are many languages for this but
the truth is:
“What is mild to one person may be terrible to another.”
You and I meet on the borders
of language where words
encounter the objects
they are designed to signify.
I cannot locate you anywhere.
You are the place
where language fails
and I am the translator
of no language.
I must internalize you
so we become nothing other.
You and I cannot
demand the future
but only our presence.
you insist on my hand
settling in its place
cradling the other
reaching only for a pen.
MORANI KORNBERG-WEISS will join poet David Hadbawnik in a joint book launch for her debut poetry collection “Dear Darwish” (BlazeVOX Books) and Hadbawnik’s translation of Virgil’s “The Aeneid” [from Books 1 & 2] recently published as a LRL Textile Series chapbook at 6 p.m. tonight at Rust Belt Books, 224 Allen St. Kornberg-Weiss, a native of Tel Aviv, Israel, has spent the last five years in Buffalo pursuing a Ph.D. in English in the University at Buffalo’s Poetics Program. Her scholarship revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the lyric tradition. The person addressed in the book’s title is Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), the great Palestinian poet widely regarded during his lifetime as the lyric voice of his people.