Stars of stone

Rustum Kozain

· Poem of the day

Stars of stone

Today the stones I know will nick

our skulls, then knock our souls

from us. It is so. For under stars

that are but burning stone,

we held each other. Named for light,

Nurbibi clung to me, her back

against the flat roof of my house

warding off earth, hanging

under heaven. Face-down,

I gripped her shoulders, smelled

the stone-roof through the rug.

Nurbibi may have stared

over my shoulder at the stars,

those burning bits of far-off stone.

And she may have seen four men's eyes

hanging above us in their own,

unmoving flame. Eyes of stone,

heads shrouded in swathes

of scripture. So I, Turyalai,

am bound. And on my knees.

And Nurbibi, in whose loins I sought

some God, is now almost at one

with earth, buried to her waist

next to me. We wait

for the seekers of God

and their ceremony of the stone.

Men we do not know will come

and let stone speak, first in whispers

then in what they must believe

a chattering of angels

when the crowd erupts and rocks arc

but in parabolas far short

of reaching God, that must return

to earth. Men who do not know us.

Men who cannot know

that even as we wronged my wife,

in union we created God. In come-cries

caught in the throat, we made Him.

And made Him ours, gave Him some voice

even as He was in the still of night

as He is now, inchoate

before the hard and burning stars.

—Rustum Kozain (On the JRB)

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