PASSOVER

“Art is what remains when the pot is broken.”
                —Chinese proverb

I know we are bound to the earth,
and the cracked heart, old terra cotta,
surrenders to vine.

Listen—I’ve seen
wind stir the hair of the dead at Belsen,
growing like art from the lacing grass;

what is terrible, even, rises.
The ruined pot dreams of ignition,
each molecule coddles its flame.

Enough alphabet for a torah
sits on the tongue. And all shards
from the winds’ end gather again.

I know we are bound to the earth
by desire’s green thread
or the milk snake’s slippery pass.

Hepatica splits now from its leaf-wing.
Out of the vessel’s wreck,
inwardness forms on the air

and that ghost tenderly enters
the soul of some mortal thing.

  — Mary Rose O’Reilley