In Ein Kerem, watercolor & ink, 16" x 15," $350
In Ein Kerem
And was I, strutting before the mirror
In my make-up and muttering oaths
To the Senate and Emperor of Rome--
Was I also a fool? Once when I stared
Into my inky jelly-like eyes
There emerged from the depths of the mirror
A procession of 126 gnome-like rabbis.
These were my ancestors
Photostatted on my cells
In the cryptograms of time.
And bandaged with tephillim
These messengers from the Demiurge
One by one castigated me for my apostasy,
Laughed at my toga, and proclaimed,
"Rome is dead but Israel still lives.
Blessed be the name of the Lord."
And then the pupils of my eyes exploded
And from the archipelagos of limbo
Sticky-winged harpies chaperoned
By an army of North-African troglodytes
Pointed to the stars and on a cloth-of-gold
I saw Moses, the Grand Scoutmaster,
Descending on a tightrope from Sinai
And holding up his index finger he said,
"The people worship the Golden Bull.
Let the Bull be your symbol, Ishmael."
And the stars became discs
And the discs became eyes
And the eyes dancing in the plumb-blue
Heavens lit up burnished minarets
And Byzantium and a vast piano score.
Then I saw goat-faced Herod
Bending his knees to Caesar
And I was on the Palatine Hill.
I was Flavius Josephus, Citizen of Rome.