The 2River View 16.4 (Summer 2012)

Anthony Opal


Translated from the Book of Job, from the Hebrew

please tell me if you understand
                                    who decided
what the earth’s form would be or who
                                    stretched the line up
on it and where its bases were
                                    sunk or who laid
its cornerstone as the morning
                                    stars sang as one
and all the heavenly beings
                                    shouted for joy

or who slammed the door on the sea
                                    when it burst forth
from the womb when i made the clouds
                                    its outer clothes
and thick darkness its underwear
                                    and declared this
by setting limits and locks and said
                                    this far you will
come and no farther and here will
                                    your proud waves be

            have you entered the warehouses
of the snow or
            seen the warehouses of the hail
which i have kept
            for times of trouble for the days
of war and battle

what is the way to the place where
                                    the light is kept
or where the east wind is slap-sent
                                    upon the earth
who has cut a channel for those
                                    torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolts
                                    to bring rain on
a land where no one lives this
                                    desert which is
empty of human life only to
                                    satisfy the
wasted desolate land and to
                                    make the ground put
forth grass

            and who’s the rain’s father and who
has given birth
            to the drops of dew from whose womb
was the ice made
            and who has given birth to the
bright hoarfrost of
            heaven who makes the waters hard
like stone and the
            face of the deep is frozen

can you knot the chains of the Ple-
                                    iades or untie
the cords of Orion can you
                                    bring forth the stars
in their perfect season or guide
                                    the bear with its
cubs do you know the laws of the
                                    heavens can you
establish their rule on the earth

Anthony Opal is poetry editor for The Economy and chapbook review editor for TriQuarterly Online. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals, including Boston ReviewNotre Dame Review, and The Progressive. He lives in Chicago, where he is a graduate student at Northwestern University and works in the department of Art History. website contact