All poems translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner
To my grandson, Asaf
On my very first visit, all
by myself, to Tel-Aviv, the animals
screamed all night long. Just
under the window of my aunt's house,
above the old zoo.
And I conquered my fear until
morning, when my cousin
teased me at the table:
It's scary, isn't it? But we
are used to all the roars.
And instead of answering, I howled
at him suddenly, like a country jackal
in the orange grove, until his
city crystal shattered on its shelf.
On the invisible path, from the optimistic boy
that I once was, to a sober dreary man,
I observe with the naked eye:
how time, heat and sweat
attack the delicate texture
of my lacey protective cover.
And how dust and mortal fear
unravel the familiar threads
of my lacey protective cover,
the pink and merciful tissue
that shields my eyes.
And they awaited his return:
the cut grass, the hole dug for a tree,
the fading plastic chairs,
the rusted gate, its hinges wailing.
Mother, brother, father and sister,
frozen in time: faded
to invisibility, bowed by the weight of the days.
And when he finally comes, everything
will start to move: the grass will grow,
the tree will bear fruit, the plastic
chairs will shine and the gate will swing
and squeak, never to be still again.
Just let him return: to burst
the bubble of time, so that their scarred hearts
can beat again. They will slowly
kneel, will raise their eyes
to him, in tears, in thanks.
At the Triage Station
Those who were born, like me, in that fateful year
spend their lives looking for their fellow travelers:
A baby transported on the floor of
an armored bus, and a young mother
shielding it with her body;
a traveler who has traversed his life
but left his heart behind
quivering at the triage station.
Let me remind you of something:
we were but a year old then
when the fate of the world was decided in
a bloodbath: Bathe, Scream, Bleed.
Cryptic words, evil, inscribed
on an ancient amulet.
©Photo of Similan, Thailand 2004 by BJ Mair
©Graphics by CGMair 2005