numinousmagazine

Leonard Kress

In Issue 4 on October 31, 2009 at 7:55 am

Mirrors

When we were slaves in Egypt, the Pharaoh outlawed sex,
even between husbands and wives, our men forbidden
to sleep at home. What did we daughters of Israel do?
We went down to the banks of the Nile and drew buckets
of water filled with tiny fish. We cooked some of them,
sold some of them to buy food and wine for our husbands
and wandered out to them in the grueling fields and when
they were full and drunk, together we gazed into the
mirrors we brought with us. The wives would say, “I am more
beautiful than you.” And husbands, gazing by our side
would say, “No, I am more beautiful than you.” We did
this, as the sages say, in the midst of hard labor,
in order to accustom ourselves to desire.

Gone Fishin’

Chuang Tzu & Hui Tzu went out for a stroll one warm day.
When they reached a bridge over the River Hao, Chuang Tzu
leaned over the rail and said, “Look how those minnows dart
to and fro, back and forth—what pleasure it must give them.”
Hui Tzu replied, “You are not a fish, how do you know
what gives them pleasure?” “And you are not I,” said Chuang Tzu,
“How do you know that I do not know what gives pleasure
to fish?” “If because I am not you and therefore I
cannot know whether or not you know, then equally
because you are not a fish, you cannot know what gives
them pleasure. So my argument still holds,” said Hui Tzu.
Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back where we started. When you asked
how I knew what gives fish pleasure, you already knew.”

Leonard Kress: My most recent poetry book is The Orpheus Complex, published by Main Street Rag. I teach creative writing, philosophy, and religion at Owens College in Ohio.

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