Overheated (Tamid) – a poem by Alan Walowitz

Overheated  (Tamid)


Three places—in the chamber of incense,
in the chamber of the spark, and the fire chamber itself,
the priests keep watch in the temple,
The fire chamber, the largest, was vaulted, 
surrounded with stoney outcrops, 
much in the manner of the time. 
This is where the elders used to sleep, 
having with them for safekeeping the keys of the Azarah.
But in the upper chambers—a secret place—above the spark
the priestly novitiates keep watch themselves--
they did not sleep in their sacred garments, 
but took them off, folded and placed them
beneath and covered themselves 
with their ordinary clothes.
If an accident happened to one, 
he would go out and take the air
much in the manner that his elders 
have ever since recommended—
and sometimes have commanded 
surely, since the beginning of our people,
the beginning of time.
And he has obeyed, as if listening to the law
was nearly the equal of heeding a parent,
And who among us is to say it is not?  

Alan Walowitz, from Great Neck, NY,  is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, comes from Osedax Press. The full-length, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, is available from Truth Serum Press.  Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night, written trans-continentally with poet Betsy Mars.

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