Letter, Café, Ledges | Three Poems by Michael E. Stone

An Old Letter


Michael E. Stone


I found a letter, closely written
on yellow card half a century ago.
It was from a girl I liked then,
me, a shy, gawky sixteen.

I did not know then if she liked me,
or if she even knew that I liked her.
I was so shy.

Then, as will be with youth
I set my heart on another, not available.
Desiring beyond my reach I pampered
my shyness.

Reading that letter half a century later
I realise what I missed
had I been bolder.

But at sixteen
no such wisdom.
Just shy.

Spring 2017


Old Letter Digital art ©2017 Michael Dickel
a letter, closely written
on yellow card
Digital art
©2017 Michael Dickel

Café with Lamp


Michael E. Stone


It was a cold, blustery evening.
Even the Square, usually busy,
had withdrawn into the cafés.
The sole restaurant was full,
in the yellow light of its lamps.

The coffee house with aspirations
had a canvas roofed addition
populated by white cane chairs
and free standing gas heaters.
It was busy.

This enterprising establishment
even surpassed its own canvas
with a boxy extension into
the Square, built of wood,
windowed all about, roofed,
and cosy with ecologically harmful
homey electric coil radiators.

There we sat. Diagonally opposite us,
at a table near the door,
four young people, one girl and
three men, with computers and an agenda,
come together for a project:
a joint paper or a presentation,
the results of a study or a survey.

Every now and then a voice would
rise, then discussion,
then one of them
would go outside
for a smoke.

Next to us were two men of
about fifty, sitting straight and
assured. Their voices were
quite loud and definite. They
spoke in turn, somewhat gravely.

Rain fell indecisively
in the cold outside.

A pert young waitress hopped up
on the bench beside me
and had a brief talk
with the heater above us.
It glowed red and she
hopped down.

We sat and talked,
my friend and I,
gently, and enjoyed
this snug spot.

The warm red heat inside
gave an illusion
of shelter, of safety.

The danger and threat of life
held at bay in a cave,
lit by a fire.

Winter 2017


The danger and threat of life held at bay in a cave Digital Landscape from Photos ©2017 Michael Dickel
The danger and threat of life
held at bay in a cave…

Digital Landscape from Photos
©2017 Michael Dickel

Narrow Ledges


Michael E. Stone


Ledges
narrow
walk tightly
danger lurks
slip and you are
bruising breaking
bowling-ball bumping
down.

Majestic cliff walls
grey granite extrusion
burst into blue sky.
The mountain.

Deep ravines,
paths picked out by donkeys
low plants obstinately
rooting in cracks, crevices
where grains of
wind-driven dirt lodge
mix with sand
eroded from the rock.

Carefully navigating
walk step by step
yet dare the
narrow ledges of
life’s ravines.

2017


Ledges—Arad Hike 2010 Digital landscape from photos ©2017 Michael Dickel
Narrow Ledges—Arad Hike 2010
Digital landscape from photos
©2017 Michael Dickel

 Michael E. Stone was born in England in 1938. His family moved to Australia in 1941, where he received his schooling, up to the completion of his BA (Hons.) degree in 1960. He holds the degrees of PhD (Harvard) and DLitt. (Melbourne). He was appointed to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1966 and became Gail Levin de Nur Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of Armenian Studies in 1980. He is now retired.

He lives in Jerusalem with his family.

He has published poems in numerous literary journals, as well as translations of medieval Armenian poetry. His poems have also been anthologized in a number of collections. His poetic translation of Adamgirk’, a medieval Armenian epic about Adam and Eve in 6,000 lines, appeared with Oxford University Press last year. He has published two books of poetry: Selected Poems (2010) and Orange Light (2016).

Stone’s academic activities have been devoted to two different disciplines, Jewish literature and thought in the period of the Second Temple, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Armenian Studies. His research and academic publications have been divided between these two fields.

He holds an Honourary DHL (Hebrew Union College), Honourary Doctor (Armenian National Academy of Sciences). He is recipient of the Landau Prize for Contribution to the Humanities.

Michael should not be confused with Mike Stone, another Israeli writer who appears in Meta/ Phor(e) /Play from time to time. They are distinct individuals, and I am pleased to consider them each my friend. —(another) Michael


 

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