Scattered Chapters

scattered chapters

New and Selected Poems
Sarabande Books


Calendar (1956)

Rabinowitz tries to crawl
Inside the numbers.
He multiplies, for instance,
The days of the year times
A fortunate life span
And arrives at an impressive
Figure—Twenty-five thousand
And five hundred.
Still, it is a poor unprepossessing
Number beside the tree
From which millions of leaves fell.

Rabinowitz sits with a calendar
Which he fills in
With names such as Shulamith
Or Schmuel or Hersh or Reva.
Each day of the calendar
Gets a name and he says
The name when he looks
At the calendar in the morning,
A sound he makes
For the sake of sound,
A wafer of prayer,
A blue speck of feeling.

During the last week of December
He fills in every day
Of the next year with names.
He dreams of thin black hair,
Frizzy brown hair, half-smiles,
Grimaces, sobs, small fingers,
Fat fingers, thumbs,
Old people and children,
Loud voices, murmurs.

This is the calendar
That awaits a new religion,
Braver than the previous ones.
Today is Tsaureh-The-Baker’s-Wife Day.
The Jews have their years.
The Gentiles have theirs.
Eternity cares nothing.

Existence plods on like
A trek to nowhere
But Rabinowitz has spoken for each day.
He dreams of reddish curly hair,
Dimples, long necks,
Dear serious soulful eyes
That bury oblivion.

© Baron Wormser