(John Tecuceanu/Unsplash)

You must tell the story, stranger—
bail the stream from the river
and spread it wide,
over rock and stone, grass and bone,
and observe the surfaces that pass
depth and tone…

You must spill the quiet, friend—
empty the darkness from the well
and let it shroud the air,
over lake and creek, city and street,
and touch the light that floats
eyes and feet...

You must step up to the fiddler, brother—
cross the line of passersby
and stand by his tree,
over broken string and fiddle, sound and spittle,
and embrace the dance that spells
rhyme and riddle…

You must still be my lover, lover—
separate the act from the actor
and wander to the stage,
over minefield and cornfield, wounded and sealed,
and forgive the body that holds
narratives of steel…

Howard Altmann’s most recent book, Forgive Time, is an original collection of fifty poems translated into Hebrew by award-winning poet/translator Tal Nitzán (Keshev Press, 2021).

Also by this author

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Published in the December 2023 issue: View Contents
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.