Allen Grossman


Getting the Child to Bed

Getting the child to bed is awful work,
Committing that rage to sleep that will not sleep.
The lie rots in my throat saying, “O. K.
There is balm in Gilead. Go to bed.
Honey of generation has betrayed us both.”
And truly it is no wild surmise of darkness
Nor Pisgah purview of Canaan drowned in blood
But only my child saying its say in bed.

The Breaking of the Law

Strapped to the bed of circumcision lies
My son. This mutilation ties
You to the fathers. They will never let
You forget, or your flesh be enfranchised ever,
Though you pray all your life long.
They set you early on the rack, infect you with a fever
Of remembering. In the marriage bed,
When you are naked, there the sign is red.
There is neither meeting nor mating but the past
Cries that you've been waited for and wed already —
I will not bless this mark upon your body.
For you the hurricane is rising fast;

The Work

A great light is the man who knows the woman he loves
A great light is the woman who knows the man she loves
And carries the light into room after room arousing
The sleepers and looking hard into the face of each
And then sends them asleep again with a kiss
Or a whole night of love
and goes on and on until
The man and woman who carry the great lights of the
Knowledge of the one lover enter the room
toward which
Their light is sent and fit the one and the other torch
In a high candelabrum and there is such light