I see two baskets of figs, two bowls of hosaf.
Good figs in one, tender, desirable,
bad in the other, mouldy, inedible.
I hear tell the juicy figs grew in displacement,
the putrid in places of safety.
Can that be right?
Does exile and suffering develop flavour?
Adaptation and shelter spoil it?
An ancient seer saw them first,
his nation overrun, its sacred sites levelled.
Those deported, he sang, will struggle into ripeness,
those who escape or lie low, will settle into rot.
Texts were to come back in one of the baskets,
matured and refined in distinctiveness and distance,
which remain sweet on our tongues.
If anything came in the other, it was spoilt,
tainted beneath decomposing layers.
No song can make promises,
yet whisper tunes of exposed, vulnerable enrichment,
sound dirges for accommodation and collusive decay.