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April 9, 2001 Issue


  • Books and the Arts





  • Hymn

    Sounds that twisted
    around the room like smoke,
    bludgeoning, blossoming,
    where I did not want
    to find them, but I find them
    over and over. Father,
    bless your hair.
    Bless your hammer
    and your no-song whistle,
    your voice, your strange
    language--embarrassing to me
    once. Too lyrical, too vulgar.
    But father, bless your hair:
    sculptural, short, black
    lamb's wool, steel wool
    like your voice--gravel
    underfoot when I'd walk
    home from school. Bless
    your voice, the gravel
    underfoot, your hammer,
    your strange language twisting
    like smoke, biting like a snake
    the head of which I wanted
    to stroke or crush with my heel.
    And your whistle father,
    and when you'd stop
    whistling, suddenly,
    in the middle of your work,
    as if something had cut
    away the part of you
    that wanted to sing.

    Yerra Sugarman

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