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SHAH JAHAN IN PRISON / S. Ben-Tov Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, had planned an identical, black shrine; he was imprisoned, in view of the Taj Mahal, before beginning it. Out of the fortress waUs, green parrots flash and dive, to nestle back in the prisoner's thoughts, whUe rising sun swirls sUver and copper, Ganga-Jumna style, on the river water. A sigh sweUs to burst anything but stone. Far off, his Taj appears to float upon its moorings, an ulusion that awes contemplators like a proof, the prisoner remembers a fountain and a garden where she visited his mind before birth. But the twin Taj Mahal. The black mirror, obsidian, onyx . . . wishfulness at night, when he sees a belt of stars circhng her hips, that she bends to unfasten. The Missouri Review · 175 THE LIGHTHOUSE / S. Ben-Tov A land-spit off Northern California, wedded to fog; pink five-odd-petaUed rose, a rock islet whiskered with foam, a dirt path to a whitewashed door, fog takes them. That is why the many oblongs of beveUed glass, iUusorily green, compose the Ughthouse lens, each side convex stepped crystal, glowing even on a cloudy day with the Ught off. Kindled, what miniature face in the umbrageous ocean could the Point Reyes Ught not rescue? Unused now; when I turned around on the dirt path, the plain tower and whitewashed door were fog, his blurred figure in an oversize parka walked into my arms, and we kissed Uke door and frame. 276 · The Missouri Review THE ARRIVAL GATE / S. Ben-Tov Your Ufe ended one minute after takeoff. A flaw branched through an engine casing; and gray shapeless clouds engulfed the last seconds you had of yourself. In free faU, souls sUp from brows Uke daydreams. Bodies are gently sloughed in free fall, at higher altitudes, not at the takeoff, with its moaning boost and tilted rows; stressed metal octaves sang through piUow-wadded skuUs. Ice rattled in clear cups abandoned by so many startled hands, at once everywhere, cUnging. Listen! this song's Unes are your instructions. Here is the red-Uned exit, wide as the mouth of a soprano, prolonging, through the awed haU, a miracle. Out of orange body-bags the exploded jet's passengers rise, smoke faces becoming flesh; their personal belongings reattach handles and shoulder-straps to hands and shoulders; the crowd surges slowly up the jetway, spUling into the arrival bay. Monitors show arrived. We walk the human corridors. You have not changed. You have not changed, and I ask why you died. The Missouri Review · 277 METEOR ELEGY / S. Ben-Tov For Itzhak Bentov ne Imrich Tobias, 1923-79 A star flees space Ughtly, in the time a spark glows in the space it leaves dark. For an escaped breath, a free Ught dishevels the starred spaces . . . Einstein measured space by point of view. My mind's doubled over my mind's wound, a hidden space; my words are wasted measuring their waste. American flight 100 heading west sheared blue space that thundered black—his last word was unknowable—the crash blasted wasteland a mUe wide. Since that time, through aU his wasted future, my father lives, as far stars waste away to starlight, he is daily light. The hourglass waist, the stem of falUng sand. Love's a determined loser at the game it masterminds. The irony of a divided mind is Uvely, but on Ufe irony's wasted . . . . . . Czech gene-strands are mine Uke strung crystal, reminders of darkness. A dark and hidden space of maternal earth minds our lost famUy. He kept his mind a wound never mended in time to die whole. He fled time and again into fast planes, reminded 178 · The Missouri Review of what made him go Ughtly— he stiU travels light. Through a Ubrary skyUght (dark, rain-scoured, unmindful of absent gazes) a hoUow Ught castle manifests, alight with pure watts of yearning. The knife-Ut turrets, a hawk deüghting, the crescent spaces bridges span, the scarp-waUed space Ughtning dazzles in transfixed: Time branching all at one time. What captures my father? Wartime bivouacs, tents ruffled with light hot wind. An...


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