tet : ט

That god and good
…..as English words
rub elbows,
…..shoulders and
(though less likely)
…..far more private
parts is something
…..oddly absent
and at once

…..a given in
the almost always
…..resonant Scripture’s
Hebrew since
…..the deity there—
curiously plural
…..in its inflection,
meaning more
…..or less universal?—

saw what he’d done
…..and said it was just
that: good
…..(tov), as when
the mazal is
…..(or, one’s fortune),
for example,
…..this persimmon
in its bowl—

…..curve within
curve and amber
…..flesh like a
melon’s in
…..an ochre skin
slightly bruised
…..near mandarin
oranges set
…..beside the window,

rain slanting
…..past the pane,
a warplane roaring
…..overhead
(through December)—
…..Chinese masters,
and then Persian,
…..often drew them,
which is to say,

…..drew them in
through it all,
…..war and famine,
exile, shame—
…..voids and inkstains—
clearly fine
…..if less a given
than a gift
…..made more vivid

strangely by
…..the early morning
paper’s news
…..from a foreign
country come—
…..so much it did
my heart inflame:
…..Aleppo crushed,
the flight begun

…..again and scores
of thousands hung
…..not (as though)
between lives
…..alone but over
nothing at all …
…..or maybe worse:
Please! Do not
…..destroy!! There

are things here
…..your children might
be able to use….
…..What a great
victory … That
…..used to be
a street, these
…..were homes … this
is how it’s happening

…..now … You see
a bomb falling
…..from the sky,
you wait and close
…..your eyes, waiting
to die, or realize
…..you’re still alive.
This is the feeling
…..inside you, she said.

In Aleppo.
…..Good god.

Peter Cole

Peter Cole

Peter Cole’s most recent book is Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Among his honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and a MacArthur Fellowship. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, where he teaches each spring at Yale.
Peter Cole

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Author: Peter Cole

Peter Cole’s most recent book is Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Among his honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and a MacArthur Fellowship. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, where he teaches each spring at Yale.