Stone Telling

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Eshet Hayil

           for Danielle Sucher

                Give her of the fruit of her hands;
                and let her own works praise her in the gates.
                 -- Proverbs 31:31

by Amal El-Mohtar

Your hands
bend fire into glass, coil colour into clay
build cities into spice, raise
whole civilisations in black-banded bodies
that suckle at your finger tips. Your hands
know a thousand alphabets, spell
a witch's worth of magic
in fibres, flavours, feasts. Beneath them
no thing can hold its shape, but trusts
that you will teach it a better.

Your eyes
are generous as the sea
that withholds no salt from those who touch it.
Guided by them, your hands are strong ships
that work the water's weight, weave waves
into purpose, make them bear a briny fruit
that you offer to all, saying taste, taste,
I have so much of it to give,
and ask only that you taste, and tell me
the song your tongue sang
as you did.

My teeth ache for it, gnash
to think of those who,
lacking eyes, lacking hands,
lacking tongues and songs,
lacking ears and noses, knowing only
a heap of black lines on white paper
as hearsay, could not possibly know enough
to hunger -- to crave
with a gnawing intensity,
what you would give.

You'll drift -- I know
that to bear such a blow, you must needs swallow
the air in your sails to breathe, lie fallow -- but your eyes
are familiar with tides, your hands
coax intimacies from sand,
and I will always stand on the shore and strain my eyes, my hands
towards the horizon's vanishing point
where they might, in time,
hold yours.

Amal El-Mohtar is an Ottawa-born child of the Mediterranean, currently pursuing a PhD in English literature at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter, sharpening her quills for the hunt. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of 28 different kinds of honey, and the winner of the 2009 Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem. Her work has appeared in many print and online venues, and been broadcast on PodCastle; she also co-edits Goblin Fruit, an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry, with Jessica P. Wick. She keeps a blog somewhat tidy at Voices on the Midnight Air.

Photography: Adapted from "Handspun Yarn: Chinese Silk Brocade," by Danielle Sucher. All rights reserved.