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A Mound in Adulam

Cows have grazed here,

centuries of cows

bending their wet noses

to fragrant grassy plants,

heroes have walked here

warriors and generals

prophets and kings


Out of the shadows of the past

fig trees stretch white arms

their trunks hidden inside gaping

chasms where potholes stare

blindly from hair-tangled branches

like sockets in an unearthed skull


Under our feet

lie villages, hidden in collapse,

places of worship, ritual baths,

cisterns and meeting rooms

where bird-wing and  lizards

flap, slither and crumble sand
from walls where human

prayers once echoed


Further down lies prehistory:
granite interlaced with quartz

and shale in flutes and channels

where fossils of forgotten eras

talk in chalk whispers of oceans

that once lapped these shores


Deep in buried passageways,

deeper still, grope slabs and rumbles

of a planet’s internal organs, where

molten rock still flows and heaves,

where crevices split down into

a million tons of fiery tectonic

indigestion as seismic underpinnings

threaten to rearrange themselves

heedless of the layer cakes of history

they will destroy


Carefully avoiding grottoes,

we wander along cow paths

picking the brown capped mushrooms

that grow only on this hill. 

Their season is short, coming after

the cold and the rain which seeps

down to strata far below and we must

savor their taste before they

too wither and withdraw their spores

back into the earth



*Adulam: - an area in southern Israel between Beit Shemesh and Beit Guvrin

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© Johnmichael Simon



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