Ghazal Season

by Jacqueline Osherow

Outside it’s gold again. My ghazal season.
Once, I wrote a ghazal trimmed in gold,

to mirror the implausible transfusion
of waning light to leaf, itself a gold-

inflected mirror, chlorophyll and sun
distilled to pure reflection, gold to gold

to gold, reflected and distilled again.
As if possessed, I siphoned bits of gold

(revising as I traveled through Siena)
from Madonnas’ haloes (even the gold

around their harrowed faces doleful, stricken)
and repurposed them as blazing cottonwood,

transfigured linden, willow, golden aspen.
I too was grieving. My father was dead

after a long and grueling mental decline
and my ex-husband (in memory: gold

before psychosis and its brutal haul set in)
had left embers in his wood stove still gold

and slept as they rekindled. His house burned.
(Smoke inhalation. Fifty-four years old)

Their voices haunt my ghazal – incantation
both painful and consoling – like this gold,

auguring, as it does, a cruel horizon
even as it dazzles. Perhaps all gold

is trailed by sorrow, all benediction,
protection and foreboding intermingled.

In the museum – jewel of jewels – I roamed alone,
compounding each Madonna’s store of gold,

her grief, her solace, her rare compassion
with half-formed couplets, finished in gold,

winding and rewinding through my head.
Madonnas. Rhymes. Refrains. An aural vision.

Don’t grieve Jackie don’t grieve the voices said.
But how can I not grieve? It’s ghazal season.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap