Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

Call Me Ephraim
by Nat Bottigheimer

Call me Ephraim, call me blessed.

These words well, rear, then crash on the shingle,

Spreading, thinning, and retreating.

Shells and stones clatter on my heels as the idea hoists itself again.

Call me Ephraim, call me blessed.

I am not yet Ephraim, nor yet blessed, though it should be so, like so many prayers.

That God would clothe the naked and remove obstacles from the blind.

That I would love myself as my neighbor.

          In the intertidal strand between sleep and waking

          A fluke, a brown, pebbled beauty with shiny dull

          Eyes and brutal teeth, approaches in bright, shallow

          Water. Excited but unprepared, and hurrying to cast,

          I become tangled and toil in agonizing divagations

          Of purpose while separately the fish attaches to the untended

          Line of a careless child who’s abruptly materialized.

I want to be blessed, to be fruited, to be a tree bowing

Under the weight of its ornament. To be invoked as an example

By generations. “Peri,” fuh-ree, Ephraim. Fruit the root

Of the name, fruit is never a root. Free Ephraim,

A man trapped, rapt, by repeating waves.

About the author

Nat Bottigheimer is an urban planner who lives in Princeton, NJ, with his astrophysicist wife, Eve. He grew up on the north shore of Long Island and loves being near salt water in all seasons.