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Grey walls stained with ochre, chipped
Dirty bowl, wooden spoon,
Battered tin cup
One guard watches always
A bored hawk

One small window
The world outside
Emerald lawns
Azure pond
Golden sun warms
Perfect trees manicure themselves
Am I the only one who sees this?

Back in my prison,
I shudder
Freezing, empty
Which is real?
Where am I?

The window is better
I like it more
I gaze
Time for myself

The pond ripples
Something is leaving
Winged lion
Mouth a furnace

I shiver
Fear? Delight?
Who cares?
Something is happening
At long last

So slow
It doesn’t run
It walks
So slow
To the right
Off stage

Another ripple
Another beast
Is that a bear?
Too big
Too heavy
Blood drips from mouth of razors
Breathing rotting flesh
Shambling monster

In the cell,
I turn
Address my guard
Do you see that?
He can’t see the window
He doesn’t see me
He sees himself
“I am a guard.
I am guarding.”
I turn away
So disappointed

Another wave
Another exit
Always to the right
No lion or bear
What is this?
Black, sleek
Solitary leopard
With four heads

Ugly in false beauty
Beautiful in ugliness
How could it survive
Even one day?

It walks
Four heads held high
To the right, always to the right

Excited now
Jail forgotten
I watch
All eyes
And breath held back

A fourth now
The worst
The biggest
Its gait a threat
A challenge unmet
No house as large
My prison smaller
Teeth of iron
Claws are copper
A machine life
A machine mind
I tremble
Cannot look away

“How can you not see this?”
The guard unmoving
Sees only reddish brick
And ghosts.
Long dead,
He thinks he is alive
I look back
No point
Can’t reach him
This is for me

One last animal
A fifth
How can this be?
There is no fifth
But there it is
It is leaving now
Off to the right

No fear of this one
Beak like a bird
Fur a rippling rainbow
Webbed feet
That could crush a car
No malice
It knows its beauty
And knows such a thing
Cannot be
But is
Off to the right
It leaves us

I shake my head.
I cannot count to five
I am stupid
Lifeless clay
My own curse
I turn back to the guard,
But he is gone.

Blue sky is gone
Clouds obscure
A grey world
The outside is the inside now

I sit on the floor
I breathe
I think
I feel
All of it
All at once

There in the air
Something dancing
A feather floats
A quill
A pen

I reach out
Grasp it
It is no pen
It is a boy
Cold and pale and solemn
Gold hair has no shine
Skin like ice

It’s all wrong
“It’s okay,”
I tell him
He stares at me
Eyes a reproach
Nothing is okay

“But you are here now!”
He is silent
Outside still as death
Inside weeping

I know what to do
What i always do
He just needs a hug
“It’ll be okay,”
I tell him
Warming him with me

His look a reproach
A rebuke
A curse
“Why do you lie?”
His eyes scream
I am

Why can I not comfort him?
He is just a boy
How bad can it be?
I can comfort many
It's all I do
But not him

Suddenly I know:

I am a failure
And I weep too.


                                -- Yishai Beckow

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