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Portrait of My Mother

Fragments of memory, sparks, contain
my nights. And suddenly my mind is
laid open: the image of rounded
hips, the box of chocolate, the
Belgian sweets. The story of my
infancy, my nose running in the crib.
A portrait of her as a young woman, neglected
like an old memory, painful, exposed,
lying on the bed to mock me.
And the confusions of her decaying mind:
the French waltz, the loss of
her father, the deceit of my childhood
caretakers. I grasp
her photograph, retreat into
the past, imprison my tears:
hear the fractured words that escape
her mouth, observe the unnatural ruddiness
of her cheeks. Here is
my entire life, here is hers.

Now, and Without Her

After the death of my mother he
comes to me in the darkness of the night.
For weeks he does not
cease, returning in my dreams,
bending over me, sweating and panting:
Go there, buy, and make haste.
The very best protective vest
awaits you in the marketplace of promises.
Remove those ridiculous cargo
pants, change quickly into
the childish clothes.
You are alone now,
she is no longer here
to screen you from the burnished
sharpness of my scythe. So
why do you daydream, tarry
and linger? Get up, get yourself together and take
a deep breath. And come to me now,
and face me, straight on and without her.

© 2005 Elisha Porat

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner