Sacred and Profane

by Tehila Hakimi

This poet once told me,
poetry is pure.
You have to approach words with the fear of God
the way you hold an ancient Torah scroll found in an archaeological dig.
And underground, in the trenches of meaning,
poets engrave letter by letter in a tablet
like idol worshippers
in the name of the holiest of holy poetry.
There’s nothing holy to poetry,
no poetry is holy.

I’ll write poetry
like a cockroach leaving tracks on the bathroom floor
like a tired cat in the sun
like a worker in a loud assembly line
on minimum wage and five hours’ sleep
like a programmer at Google
under fluorescents
I’ll write poetry
from the locker room at the gym
in bed without glasses, one eye shut
(to focus)

You can’t distinguish word from word
sacred and profane
ass and mouth
piss and black coffee
used tampon and God
one day I’ll be a filthy poet of rats
publishing poems in the sewers.


This poem by Tehila Hakimi is translated by Rachel and Adam Seelig.