"And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living." Luke 15:13

What am I to you, kind father,
that my gaunt body must go on
         with its faint life—
         have you forgotten my forgetting
the northern linen and rich wool of your
voice? I have rushed towards the
         oil eyes of the strange harlots:
         The sharp-eyed women whose life
was a matter of currency, their nude joy
a passing song on my body.
         Under the wool-gathering sun
of Elul that paints the wrinkled brown
olive and peach orchards:
         Its red summer light like ochre clay
on the kind face of a tavern woman.
         When I come to the end of my
         naked life: the Persian wine
spilled among the husks of the swine,
         my braying lips
         that thirst, the dirt-scented
body, this cathedral of salt, that has
taken the color of emptiness:
         the peroration of kind pleasure
         that wants to whisper its final refrain.
Why do you call the quick servants to
give the aged wine to the one who can
         no longer stand its taste:
what am I that my eyes may live for you,
         that the famine of my being
         be draped in the old flaxen robes—
does the tallow of the meek calf
promise less than the breath of one who
         makes himself a stranger
         to the olive-scented joy
of his boyhood home? Though I am fed
with the soft light of your embrace,
         standing alone on the sand
and rock of the high road:
The silhouette of my brother's eyes
         on the stairwell.
Yet when will I have the aged, wine-touched
beard of your mirth and know
         to forgive myself