Ziggurat (and Helix)
by Amy Chai
It was never the fruit that mattered. Sweet flesh
of apricot only hid a stone
smelling of bitter almond.
We split that fruit without tasting;
now bursting seed will divide hardened earth, baked brick;
eastward, on the plains of Shinar.
Dry plains in the ancient places remember
fired clay and tar-jointed steps.
Our tower is pitched in spiral links; this stair
will ascend right-handed to God’s heaven.
Twist life’s coil taut in the hidden place;
it will fall back on itself
like a serpent, ready to strike.
O Mighty Hunter! We have reached for your shadow:
Now translate for us in a tongue
no longer ours or your own.
Before you fly to Assyria, tell us:
Did you touch the sky?