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A Tourist, Passing Time

To Tikva and Amos Efroni

"Pardes Huri" was uprooted long ago,
the communications channel bordering it
has been covered for years. And in the ruins of
the hill that was then called "Tlel"
rain, wind and war have erased
the impression made by a
crooked old steel pole
against which I leaned, exhausted,
to doze in the intervals between shellings.

"A tourist, passing time", I say
to the beautiful proprietress and
so sign in her guest book. My fingers
betray me and my heart is burning,
and once again I am seized by that
forgotten tremor, in the ambush that revealed
itself, under the thicket, between
the columns of the bridge forever seared
into my memory. I erase and correct my entry:
"A tourist, whose time is passing." And as she
secretly watches I am baptized
once again: in a scalding baptismal
font, filled with the sweat of paralyzing
fear, immersed in the memory
of my first baptism by fire.


Eternal Servant

Women never come to terms
with the constant widening of
their hips; in their wiliness
they try to cheat the nature of woman:
cutting on the bias, camouflaging,
lengthening, in denial of the natural
law of the flesh. But I am
an eternal servant of your body,
I am happy when it thickens
and happy too when it narrows:
a beloved place, a sad source,
from whence I came, and to which,
alas, I will never return.


The Andalusian Ideal of Beauty

One: here is a palm tree, green, tall,
a provider of shade. Two: here is a lemon tree,
sweet smelling, wild, heavy with white flowers.
Three: and here we have the red rose. Which is the blood
that nests in the garden, above the flowing creek.
On its thorns even the hardest hearts
are caught and sliced in two, the better to nourish
the twin soils: which are the warm golden
soft silk that rests above a silvery
hillside. Dark and damp, a leafy threesome.
Here is a final sum: in which is included an erect
palm, the lemony scent pouring like juice,
and the thick thorny blood of the rose running
into the culvert, washed in the heat of the afternoon, then
clotting, soaking the dusk, to percolate slowly up the wall.




Soil and Love

As I lean over the foundations of the new house,
I scoop some soil into a loving hand, and bring it
to my mouth. I taste its texture as if I am tasting
creation, inhale its aroma into quivering
nostrils; like in that photograph, of days
gone by. And like my father, I close my eyes
and whisper words, repeat them like an ancient
mantra: clay, loam, sand; names, names,
and earth swallowed by treacherous ground water.
And then I hesitate, afraid to open my eyes:
I know the gaping hole will never
be filled, it will stay forever in my heart,
will not close, cannot be filled by one man alone.

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

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