in the land of egypt

by Jake Goldwasser

in eretz mitzraim, water tastes astringent
you memorize the storefronts from the train
surnames on funeral homes and water-damaged
awnings that furrow the entrances of nail salons

tikkun olam is walking barefoot through the sinai,
the mojave, the rain-shadow deserts of eurasia
water bottles rendered as shattered glass in heatlines
wave hovering in drains above the panorama

your skin is as fragile as a braille message
its fractures so manifold they become a powder
each particle a cactus needle in a bassinet
you get on all fours to pick the pieces up

for forty years you will wander in the desert
eretz new jersey, eretz williamsburg, eretz san jose
none of the treatments will work, the ground
will pull your legs to a limp in white sand

the ground will be a labyrinth of stubbed toes
and the maps will have five dimensions, your
vision of mirages will grow keener as
all sounds are resorbed into a wilderness


[Jake Goldwasser is a poet and cartoonist based in Mountain View, California. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harbinger Asylum, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Homonym, and the Spectacle.]