Once, in the old country, he had paced 
all night in the garden, chanting the forbidden 
words, until God spat down in disgust 
upon the earth, and in the morning the radishes 
had grown in obscene luxuriance, and his young wife 
became frightened and went back to her family, 
leaving him alone, with no witness to his 
growing power, but he went still deeper 
into the secret books, and the men in the study house 
laughed at him, and the women turned their faces 
away when he passed them on the street.  

The devil danced in his place behind the stove 
and every familiar object denied its own 
true name, but he never grew discouraged until 
the soldiers came, and then the words were no good 
anymore, and he saw that things were just themselves, 
nothing more, so he went to America and did well 
in the garment business, and he sits, now, in 
an air-conditioned room in Miami, a failed 
Messiah, a somber old bird stranded among flamingos,  

and in the mirror the night paints his hair black, as if he were young again, a taste like dust 
rises from his sour stomach, and the memory 
of his beautiful beard is stained with tears.