The slide show began:
a photo of a human skull,
daubed with hues of faded red and blue,
two ancient shells for eyes.  An ancestor

found in a niche
in a wall
in a house, nine thousand years ago
in Jericho.

Did the women come and go glancing
at the dead and murmur memory?  Did men
gauge the aged parent with a cunning eye?
Did one earn this niche by character or deeds?

Paint my bone pate apple red, my cheek bones blue
and phosphorescent.  Pick two shells among the many
we have found along the shores and place me squarely
near your pasta jar, there

to sightless stare into eternity,
to hear the sounds of living without ears,
to accumulate the cooking smells through a vacant nose,
to gather dust, exuding wisdom there.

1 thought on “Jericho

  1. I was very moved by this poem. I love the way that it plays with the ancient past and the present, with the mythic and the quotidian, with skulls and pasta jars. The rhythm of the line “Paint my bone pate apple red” makes it especially evocative–and I am really taken with the image of the women who “murmur memory” …

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