—Witz by Joshua Cohen
Saturday, September 04, 2010
At the outskirts of my father's dwellingplace, at the furthest limit of His encampment, there amid the ringing of haycocks where land gives way to earth, to pure planet — there's an emptied barrack or prison thatch that once quartered killers of mine and of any other kind, too, murderers with governments and the sanction of uniform, weapon, and horse. It's since become all board, nail, leak, and draft, its floor strewn with straw and that and its walls smeared with the sickening reek of we hair, pelage, daily turd. Inside, inhabiting, there's only a lone aged ram. It's humiliated, made modest, as its burden's considerable: how it's dually imaged, as if once for each horn, for each half of the cadence responsible; this ram both existing of its kind, as the last of its species still grazing, and then existing for its kind, too, as their most imperfected survivor — most imperfected as their survivor, their last and their only; to be herded humbled, alone, as a herd of one and itself, up the ramp of an Ark, bound express for our covenant's end: think the species' lowliest, and most degenerate aspect, made ancient to wizened bellwether with raggedy coat, then hefted here to rume out its life once it's downed its last golden door; it's lost its horns, too . . . how they'd been stolen by night, by a boy and his father, and an angel that'd saved them both from a mountaintop altar. At the sound of my horns, my own shofars these shofarot twinned in the wind, one for each lip ended upon that lip of last day . . . how this ram despite wormy illness and old age will perk, turn itself dumbly, lean its head toward the gusting, an echo. Hoof mud. Now, charging its brutishly bared head, and with nothing to fear, forward and always, this ram will hurl itself against the furthest wall of the barrack, not east nor west but out, only out and with such fierce and wet woolen force — to knock everything down, to shatter it through, an escape, into unlimited space.