Page 40 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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32
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
In terms of T u rn e r’s liminal theory, the ambiguous “this” im­
plies structure, so that the sage leaf abandons custom and moves
independently down the road of communitas.
“A Memory of My Friend” perches ironically on a domestic
threshold:
A Jewish atheist stubborn as Freud
(the only Father he left undestroyed),
Who when you left his house at night would nod
And say, instead of “Good Night,” “Go with God.”
And in “Quaerendo Invenietis” Nemerov identifies with part
of the portal:
/
I am the combination to a door.
That fools and wise with equal ease undo.
Your unthought thoughts are changes still unread
In me, without whom nothing’s to be said.
I f the reader’s task is to undo the combination that unlocks
the meaning of the poet and his poem, then the quest is of
supreme importance:
II
It is a spiral way that trues my arc
Toward central silence and my unreached mark.
Singing and saying till his time be done,
The traveler does nothing. But the road goes on.
A labyrinthine scroll lies at the core of Nemerov’s vision.
“The Icehouse in Summer,” based on
Amos
3:15, begins with
the picture of a door sunk in a hillside, and concludes:
I was the silly child
who dreamed that riderless cry, and saw the guests
run from a ghostly wall, so long before
the winter house fell with the summer house,
and the houses, Egypt, the great houses, had an end.
Since T u rne r links liminality and invisibility, it is appropriate
that Nemerov’s apocalyptic Egyptian vision includes a ghostly
wall. To see those ghosts from the past, one turns to Nemerov’s
“The Scales of the Eyes”: “And the rabbis have said the last
word / And the iron gates they have slammed shut / Closing
my body from the world.” But with the liminal condition im­