Molding the Image


          Aaron speaks

Stay up on the mountain
too long, & it changes you.
Droplets of cloud cling to your beard.
Your skin begins to glow
like a salamander’s belly.

The groans of trees in the wind
sound the way a crowd should murmur —
penitent — or an ox
grateful for the yoke.

Waking up every morning to the same
present moment whispering
blandishments in your ear —
it makes you intolerable.
You forget the teeming desires
of ordinary people, whose days
all point in one direction.

Living in the clouds, you lose
touch, until one day
your worst fantasies rise up against you:
luster of gold unfastened from wrist
& ankle, oiled bodies ready
for some glistening bullock.
Smashed tablets.
Swords dripping with gore.

Look, I am not that man Moses,
so incoherent with conviction.
God gave me the subtle tongue
of a go-between, bending in both directions.

Look, the needs of the people
are holy to me. I have been
to the mountain, & I can tell you,
there’s nothing up there
that’s even faintly human.