Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"Mosaic" by Linda Pastan

1. THE SACRIFICE

On this tile
the knife
like a sickle-moon hangs
in the painted air
as if it had learned a dance
of its own,
the way the boy has   
among the vivid   
breakable flowers,   
the way Abraham has   
among the boulders,   
his two feet heavy   
as stones.


2. NEAR SINAI

God's hand here
is the size of a tiny cloud,   
and the wordless tablets   
he holds out
curve like the temple doors.   
Moses, reaching up
must see on their empty surface   
laws chiseled in his mind   
by the persistent wind   
of the desert, by wind   
in the bulrushes.


3. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

We know by the halos   
that circle these heads   
like rings around planets   
that the small donkey
has carried his burden   
away from the thunder   
of the Old Testament   
into the lightning
of the New.


4. AT THE ARMENIAN TILE SHOP

Under the bright glazes   
Esau watches Jacob,   
Cain watches Abel.
With the same heavy eyes
the tilemaker's Arab assistant   
watches me,
all of us wondering   
why for every pair   
there is just one   
blessing.
 
 
Copyright © 1988 by Linda Pastan. Used by permission by permission of Linda Pastan in care of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. (permissions@jvnla.com)

Source: Carnival Evening by Linda Pastan published by W. W. Norton and Company Inc.

Linda Pastan is a former Poet Laureate of Maryland.  Her 16th book, Almost An Elegy, New and Later Selected Poems, will be published in the fall of 2022 by W. W. Norton. 

 
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