The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Job's Return
By Anna Kamienska
Translated by Tomasz P. Krzeszowski and Desmond Graham

Job didn't die
didn't throw himself under a train
wasn't slaughtered behind wire
wasn't blown through the chimney
despair didn't kill him
he rose from everything
poverty filth
scabies loneliness

How much more real a dead Job would be
even after death threatening the God of pain with fists
But Job survived
washed from his body blood sweat ulcers
and lay down in his own regained home
New friends already hastened
new wife blowing new love into his mouth
new children grew with silken hair
so Job could lay his hands on their heads
new oxen sheep asses bellowed
banged with new ropes in stables
knelt down on straw

But the happy Job was too weak to be happy
lest with his second happiness he betrays happiness
lest with his new life he betrays life
Wouldn't it be better for you Job
to rot in the lost paradise with the dead
than now to wait for their nightly call
in dreams they enter envy your life
Wouldn't it be better for you Job
to become carrion as carrion you are
ulcers washed off your hands your face
have bitten deep in heart and liver

You shall die Job
Wouldn't it be better to have died
with others in one pain and mourning
than now to leave new happiness
Among new people redundant like a prick of conscience you walk in darkness in darkness wrapped
you've suffered through pain now suffer through happiness

And Job stubbornly whispered Lord Lord


This week's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World is about Kamienska, whom Mary Karr calls "one lesser-known beauty from the generation that spawned Nobel laureates Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska." Karr has many favorite poets from last century who are Polish, of whom she says, "When Nazi occupiers were replaced by equally brutal Stalinists, the cataclysm must have bled irony into the nation's poetry." To her, Kamienska "sounds less sardonic, more desperate to make sense of random the way people dust themselves off after tornadoes, Job kept on. But how ghastly his blessings must have seemed after his gargantuan losses...[this] Job can endure his losses more easily than he can God's offer of a new life with abundance." (Karr posted excerpts of the translation in Astonishments: Selected Poems of Anna Kamienska; I found the complete poem in a different translation from Brindin Press.)

The weather forecast said that there might be afternoon thunderstorms, so rather than plan an all-day expedition, we waited to see how things looked when older son got back from working at Hebrew school. Then we decided to go pick apples at Homestead Farm, since this is the first weekend the Red and Golden Delicious varieties were ripe as well as the Jonathans, Empires and Royal Galas, plus there was apple butter and apple cider in the farm store. It was quite warm and some of the farm animals looked droopy, but we got to see the calf, sheep, pigs, chickens and goats, and we had a lovely drive to Poolesville past horse farms and the big antenna array for looking for signals in outer space!

Three of the goats at Homestead Farm enjoy a view of the wagons that will be giving hayrides to the pumpkin patch in a few weeks.

Other goats enjoy the view from their walkway above the path to the animal pens.

Eventually they come down to eat, anyway. (And I sincerely hope they come down to do their business, since people walk under that walkway.)

Here is one of the farm's sheep, looking miserable panting under all that wool in the nearly 90 degree heat of the afternoon.

As you can see (and could smell, if you were there), the piggies spent much of the day in the mud.

These three golden retrievers looked just as warm, but they got to spend the afternoon under cover by the farm store.

The chickens didn't seem to mind the heat, though, since they were up and around pecking at their food...

...all but this hen, who was sitting on what looked like a very large cache of eggs.

In college football news of the day, Maryland won! And Michigan lost! And I gather than USC blew out Ohio State but I didn't watch. Mostly I enjoyed the Terps' first half very much, as they didn't look terrific the past two weeks but now they've beaten a ranked team. We were going to rent a movie tonight, I have a Blockbuster coupon, but I forgot to bring it with us when we went on a Giant/CVS run late in the afternoon for stuff for Waldorf salad (a fine thing to do with apples) and I ended up just playing with photos instead of watching anything. So no political ranting tonight because I have no clue what went on in the world besides Hurricane Ike -- hope everyone is safe and sound! Off to watch SNL and get ready to go to Mount Vernon for the Colonial Fair on Sunday!

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