Twenty-First Century Flint Mary Leonard

The WORD For Spring—En/Ein

Blue divides land from sea and the Dead Sea divides Israel from Jordan and in this composition, acrylic on canvas, Farouk Hosyny, Egyptian, divides with a black slash like a road, a wadi, an en, an ein.


I am out of it. We hiked at Ein Gedi
and I held my breath as I climbed up rocks,
focusing on sky, clouds, anything
out of range, but the sun was too close
and my own body betrayed me with dizziness
as if I were both Arab and Jew living on the edge.

I am out of it. We hiked along the black slash of
the wadi and I could feel myself losing balance
as if I were walking on circus stilts across a
divide and the upside down V of my legs, ^, slipped
away like language between enemies.

Wadi—An Arab Word

(Water once ran in this dry riverbed. Now rocks
plummet to a depth of black space.)

En/Ein—Hebrew for spring

I am out of it. I choke on these words, stumble
over Chalcolithic ruins, wild goats, hydraxes,
ibexes, 6000 years. Saul pursued David here.
The guidebook says, This is just a mini-tour.


The black slash divides the canvas
but thrusts upward like the trunk of a tree,
rooted in an earth hiding ruin over ruin, and the
blue gesture moves to frame and soften, circling
back like an arm of life. And that small black v
pushes me into the white space of the distant
clouds. A false security.


And conflict is like the code of tic-tac-toe,
pencil marks of x’s and o’s played to the death,
and all that remains is a black slash.

And those V’s? I drew birds as V’s in first grade,
graceful, small, large, always in black crayon
pressing them hard, so that they could fly,
in and out of the birdhouse, the sky, imitating
the language of teachers who reduced birds to V’s.

In this composition, the black V is a simple
mark at the center, leading my eye to a white
space, as if to say, For one moment, can’t we see
beyond our histories, fall like brothers into the
clean white of folded clouds?


October 2002 2River