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That Gospel Spiel

for A.

I picture you, years from any now, playing
table tennis with your partner
at some schmaltzy kibbutz by the wind-pressed sea,
paddle-swiping at the butterfly ball,
olives plumping on background branches —
distractions in the breeze — while old men kvetch
over coffee tables like Hasidic Prufrocks,
their peachy days behind them, and grand
children gallop in the surf and throw
apples at the pulsing sun
You miss and miss the ball and
your partner laughs, white picket teeth, at your energy
and light, against a sky you think gratuitously
blue and bright — some stained glass scented memory
with a kind of abstract hope painted into it,
and you standing there arms akimbo,
a masterpiece just waiting to dance,
Mona Lisa at the prom,
“Game,” he says, like some pick-up line
at the punch bowl.

All around you, around you all,
there’s growing talk (there always is),
up and down the orchards, or hunched over
together in ripe organic gardens, talk
of the West Bank, Auschwitz, baseballs being juiced,
gefilte fish and Jews today, with Pablo
Casals’s mellow cello groaning from the kitchen,
and talk talk talk of Groucho
and Facebook feeds, Einstein, Trump and
the on and off quantum future of multiverses,
all thrown together in a sonic stew
and smelling to the ear
like something between cacophony and Beethoven’s Ninth.
Then you in your New Age hippywear smiling
like the Sun, as a revelation, rising slowly from the sea
to open up the horizon, a liquid orchid.
Your partner puts his paddle down
and gives you his best male gaze, tamed
by the times and education, the gaze
your thesis interrogated, embraced now in this light.
And you’ll stand there now, in the moment,
like Amelia Earhart washed up on the shore
drenched with the gospel of human experience,
brown hair tendrils in the wind held up in a frame of love,
until the moment breaks like a wave upon the shore
with an effervescent hiss and is gone.
You put your paddle down,
Mona Lisa by the punch bowl,
And go inside, hands together.
Fast forward, through all the talk of language
and time, in a nutshell of memories squirreled away,
the schmaltzy kibbutz an oracle
you return to, a disposable sand-kicked mandala
of color, and rub back the sea
to its blank white canvas of endless