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  • Ghazal
  • Linda Zisquit (bio)


There are different meanings to the word, passage. When Godpassed over the houses of the Israelites it was a time when God

could be imagined as moving in this world. When Moses wastold to speak to the rock he hit it instead. Though God

had given him other chores which he performed, like pullingthe stiff-necked people across the desert, or begging God

to forgive their molten hungers and complacency, still He knewin His heart that no matter what ensued He remained the God

who would not allow His beloved's passage into the placehe sought. Lips dry and body reaching, still his God

remained stubborn and equally stiff. No. That's it. One chance.You will not go there. But listen, as the wind begins his God

is saying something else about the word, passage. A man can hearin his sentence a death knell, the very thing he wants denied, a God's

iron clad refusal. Or he can hear in the language of the gods comingup from the deep another sound that evokes his own, his God's

understanding that the real journey goes on inside where the voiceis found. His tongue his weary arms his silences that want no God

to come again with promises begin their movement towardsanother source. If he can find in himself the gift of God

to speak to the ones receiving the gift he seeks, then Stern can takethis passage outward and speak to her estranged friend, or God. [End Page 32]


I could run back to my study with the white desk, green sofaand try in the minutes remaining to compose a poem

or sit here in this space that a moment ago was quietand try to remember what it takes to compose a poem.

If Moses beseeched God for the sake of others and by virtueof that success thought he would cross over, a poem

is like water, one wades on one side and wanting what'swaiting turns and nearly reaches the distant-growing poem

or a rhythm that moves without transformation and sinksto the bottom, lifeless, forgotten till the rigid edge offers a poem

as it rises as if from an ancient storehouse of dream.To sleep and wake after such an occurrence is like a poem

whose visitation goes unnoticed. Till from somewherea wind or a voice or a word carries across. A poem

intended has no surface no breakage unexpected. Linda, let goof your conscious desire to not be offended, so told the poem. [End Page 33]

Linda Zisquit

Linda Stern Zisquit has published three collections of poetry, most recently The Face in the Window (Sheep Meadow, NY, 2004), as well as translations from Hebrew, including Wild Light, for which she received an NEA Grant, and Let the Words: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach. She lives in Israel, teaches poetry at Bar Ilan University, and runs ARTSPACE, an art gallery in Jerusalem.



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