In the morning before the sun rose
I clambered onto the lower levels
each quarried stone as big as a house
making my way toward the apex
the luminous alabaster square cone
pointing to the realm of constellation.
I am the grandson of Methuselah
the oldest patriarch in history
my father knew him as father
until he died at a hundred and five
and grandfather put him in a coffin
and laid him under the kitchen floor.
That was almost a generation ago
my bones are getting slow and hard
here in the suburbs of Jericho
as far from the sea as from the sky
as far from al-El as from Osiris
in the valley between birth and wickedness.
Now I am at the middle ranges
up the steep pyramid of Khufu
grandfather on my shoulder translating
he had been here as a half-ripe man
receiving secrets older than the age
of the river forgetting its source.
My grandfather and I lie quietly
on the roof to absorb all the stars
he says his father knew each one
he says his uncle spoke their language
stellar grammar greening the garden
we were all cast like rats from.
The northern and the southern galaxies
I asked him where they came from
he said it all started with two then grew
to a thousand in the days of Enos
a million by the birth of Mahalalel
ten billion in the sky of infinite Enoch.
So and so on the no of so
the furthermore that exceeds the now
now that my roundabout eyes realize
where I have been heading will hardly
wait forever for me that I ought not
be as greedy as my grandfather
who is still circling the same sun
as blessed the cedars and mangroves
as dried up the saharan swamp
as spoke to him in a dream of orbs
in a metaphor taken mistakenly
as a promise.
He still thinks although I don’t
that the ups and downs of all men’s
monuments are his personally.
He is like the ghost at the caravanserai
watching passengers depart and arrive
to and from homes not his.
Almost there I find myself –
child of the child of endlessness –
within reach of the point of this peak.
I look. As much below me as above.
I say, ‘Grandfather Methuselah
I need not continue to pursue
what is already mine
what was given to me
what I treasure and offer
the flocks and swarms
in my belly and under
my distant protection.
Before the sun could set I left
descended and abandoned
the menagerie of my tradition
my arms and legs. So with wings
of ignition I begged the question
of new worlds.