In Dolin’s poem we wake up abruptly inside the walls of an ancient temple. Walls are all we have to orient ourselves here in this place, which is without roof or pillars. “I don’t know how” this transformation took place, the unnamed speaker confesses almost shyly, but suddenly she seems to have so much space inside. I love the care and attention of the speaker’s observant eye that draws my own eye down the page. This eye is able to see even the print of lettering on pocket lint, the smallest creatures taking their place in the choreography of worship, and how it all constellates into a whole, into praise. Suddenly, in the very end the “temple” itself moves, rising and bowing along with all the worshipping spirits within it.
From cramped to roofless
——-I became—I don’t know how—
————–an open-air temple with no pillars.
My walls of stone, lichen-covered,
——-The willows shook around me
————–as mice and small insects
knelt in moonlight, I could feel
the breath of many spirits
——-winging through my chamber:
————–rabbis dropping pocket lint—
specks of letters their devotional
thumbs rubbed off prayers—
——-peppered the air. As lithe women
————–led the service of dancing
I saw the specks drifting
Above image by Ondrej Salek, used with permission under a Creative Commons License.