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Joy Ladin


In the Beginning

There was love.  And out of love
Came graves and mountains,
Clefts in rocks, footsteps in gardens,
Warm-blooded creatures
Taking shape in darkness,
Peppermills and grocery lists,
Squirrels scrabbling on copper roofs,
The smalls of backs, the backs of necks,
Tea lights and tapers,
Badly sewn curtains,
Sobs in the night, policemen on lawns,
IVs and ambulances,
Skies full of stars
Waiting for eyes
To see them as constellations.



The World at Your Feet

What is man that you are mindful of him...
laying the world at his feet?

                                             — Psalm 8

Eden eyes you from afar.  Waterbirds
Flick their white-tipped wings

Shyly as they skim
The paradise ashiver

In the river’s ripples:  palm and eucalyptus,
Animals eager to receive their names,

Sheep and oxen, wild beasts, all the birds of heaven.
The Garden that’s longed for you

From the instant longing split you
Colors like a jilted lover, flashing

The iridescent eyes of peacocks, brushing your brow
With willow fingertips,

While you, who long to lose yourself
In the world that longs to take you

Where God is imperative to blossom
And thirst for the knowledge of sorrow

Becomes the sorrow of the knowledge
There was no need to thirst,

Find yourself
With the world at your feet

Choosing again
To betray her.



Joy Ladin is David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College of Yeshiva University. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and on the web, and her third collection, Transmigration, is coming out in 2009.

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