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from the August 2004 issue

The Happiness of Also Refusing Happiness

The happiness of refusing happiness
The joy of refusing joy
Passionately keeping passion back
Proudly breaking pride in ecstasy.

Night in the forest on trouble's path
All rustling has become one tree
One secret calling cry for help
One star glowing, a small eye.

What's sense here? I don't know why--
Still walking, now I'm at the door
Chaos behind. The door's a lamp
Inside the cry of help before.

The mussar house inside of me
Murmurs, mirage of childhood awe
Yellow the lamp above the door
Faces parchment ecstatic glow

They're putting it out. All kinds of cry
In black dispersed. Wings' heat unloosed
Cry of pain exalted sings
I am on fire, and in terror: frost

The mussar songs of distant past
Which years-long awed me radiant
My whole life's warring with myself
Winning, I'm lost in forest chant.

Light's out. Again dark radiates
The mussar song, pained ecstasy
The happiness of refusing happiness
And the joy of also refusing joy.

Mussar: Jewish religious-ethical movement, beginning in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, stressing rigorous self-examination and purification of motives in the service of God.

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