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This article is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

The Fathers are Watching Gabriel Levin
I beat a retreat but the retreat hits back and when I’m flat out it pours a bucketful of arpeggios to revive my sullen disbelief. Hey, what’s going on, I cry out, coming to. - Relax, and face the music.

When Zeus thunders the Muses slip away to their favourite swimming hole, dipping their toes into Helicon’s waters as they gaze at the heavens’ reflection, determined to pick out Orpheus’s Lyre. Why should Zeus have such an effect on his daughters who trip on soft feet? Are they merely ‘lilyvoiced’, insouciant, distractible, and, at best, of two minds, not unlike the sleeping shepherds on the watch they so fondly like to prod into song? Is this not the meaning of their very first words: Meadowland shepherds, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many falsehoods as though they were true, but we know, when we wish, how to say the truth.

A chopper circles the Dome of the Rock like a mule harnessed to a water wheel. Achmed, his trowel caked with mortar, shifts his gaze from the runaway wall to the whirling rotors. Snug in the cockpit Moshe nudges his co-pilot. His partner stares down through his field glasses and splits his sides laughing, and the two break into song, the floods stood straight like a wall/the deeps froze in the heart of the sea. A very ancient song, but for them just words sung cunningly on their lip. And ...

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