R. Shimon Contemplates Bird Hunting

Batnadiv HaKarmi


…they saw a man hunting birds—
they heard a voice from the heavens call “Dimos dimos.”
and the bird would escape;
They heard another voice call “Spikula,”
and the bird was captured…
[R.Shimon] said, “If a bird cannot be trapped without Heaven’s decree,
how much more so the soul of a man.”

—Genesis Rabba, 79


As they ascend, they seem like stars

oblivious to the earth’s draw.


A sliver of wood, sticky

with the blood of the saucerberry

whose gray leaves smother

the plain above the Dead Sea

and they flutter like leaves

trying to flee the tree

only to batter to the ground.


A tilting mist-net glints silver

in dawn’s slow dirge. Barely there

yet now they are tangled

like flies in a web, who

leave their iridescent wings

dangling like dew drops

above eyelash legs.


Or a net shoots forth to scoop them

air turned water

they flail like fish

flippers gasping.


A captured bird,

eyelids sewn shut

can be used to lure others

with its desperate cries—


so cruelly are stars turned to snares.


Batnadiv HaKarmi is a writer and visual artist who currently resides in Jerusalem. Her work has been published in Poet Lore, Arc Poetry, and Radar Poetry, and her chapbook is upcoming from Kelsay Books.




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