Mosaic

By Linda Pastan b. 1932 Linda Pastan
1. THE SACRIFICE

On this tile
the knife
like a sickle-moon hangs
in the painted air
as if it had learned a dance
of its own,
the way the boy has   
among the vivid   
breakable flowers,   
the way Abraham has   
among the boulders,   
his two feet heavy   
as stones.


2. NEAR SINAI

God's hand here
is the size of a tiny cloud,   
and the wordless tablets   
he holds out
curve like the temple doors.   
Moses, reaching up
must see on their empty surface   
laws chiseled in his mind   
by the persistent wind   
of the desert, by wind   
in the bulrushes.


3. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

We know by the halos   
that circle these heads   
like rings around planets   
that the small donkey
has carried his burden   
away from the thunder   
of the Old Testament   
into the lightning
of the New.


4. AT THE ARMENIAN TILE SHOP

Under the bright glazes   
Esau watches Jacob,   
Cain watches Abel.
With the same heavy eyes
the tilemaker's Arab assistant   
watches me,
all of us wondering   
why for every pair   
there is just one   
blessing.

Linda Pastan, “Mosaic” from PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Linda Pastan. Reprinted with the permission of the Jean V. Naggar Agency, Inc. on behalf of the author.

Source: Carnival Night: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1998)

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Poet Linda Pastan b. 1932

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Travels & Journeys, Judaism

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Linda  Pastan

Biography

Poet Linda Pastan was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. In her senior year at Radcliffe College, Pastan won the Mademoiselle poetry prize (Sylvia Plath was the runner-up). Immediately following graduation, however, she decided to give up writing poetry in order to concentrate on raising her family. After ten years at home, her husband urged her to return . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Travels & Journeys, Judaism

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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