Birthday Poem

by Hannah

Seven thousand some days into the search:
the travellers fellow as the sky burns.
Natal damp dries quickly as sun chews earth,

as equinii turn.  They take smaller bites
of ancient, frosted cake.  They learn sugar,
one at a time, as pre-evening comes in.

Things precursor my particular thrall:
an overabundance of scorpions.
The children string the fallow poison-rods

on wan twine.  Nothing retains any sting.
Midday:  we miss two young-of-the-journey.
They return before dusk, sandy and flushed.

I remember my wanders from the group,
days close to six thousand, body breasted.
Discoveries, like all lessons, composed

of few nouns:  hills larger than usual.
The costs of flat bread and slavery gone
from the hallowed leaders, from a distance.

I returned, inevitably uncled.
Seven thousand some days into the search:
we stopped, the men shawled, unphylacteried

for nightfall, the women netted for gnats.
The rabbi lolled his tongue to his brother,
Who buried his hands in my greasy hair.

I understand:  I had been forgotten,
pupped in the days of the earliest plagues,
My mother swollen, drinking Nile water

Despite the blood, the thick frogs.  She was young:
had I come ten days earlier, her man
would have smeared the post in lamb.  She held out,

clenched herself against the torrent until:
I was born first into exile, swaddled
in a worn cloth smelling of fresh manna.

The cragged brothers remember:  without time,
without needing a referent.  I smell
like the desert, someone waiting for milk,

honey, grapes as big as my shoulder-bone.
I taste like the burning bush, and after
The blessing, I will mark these twenty years:

Some curly-haired Levite, five years older,
waits for me on the other side of camp.
(He will see Jericho and bleed the ground.)

For now, I speak low to him in the words
Solomon will use:  that you would kiss me
with the kiss of your mouth.  Night has fallen.