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Requiem for a Woman

Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life,
the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle
of the living by the Lord your God. Samuel I, 25,29


When you left, you sucked my face out of my face
as one sucks a raw egg
out of a hole in the shell
in one gulp

All is heard at the end of time.

Perfected is the reflection of nothingness
staring back from shop windows.
Black eye holes gape at me
from the skulls of passersby
One can see the street
to its very end,
to the infinity of lines.

All the streets crawl towards the Garden.
I can hear the green paint crack,
peeling itself off the benches,
beckoning me to return
into your ribcage.

The cherubs still guard the entrance,
cigarette butts in their open stone palms,
mildew spreading in the whiteness of their eyes.
Wind blows soft in the leaves of Knowledge,
bringing me children's laughter as they play
so close, it is almost
possible to touch.
I'll rest myself for a moment;
The bundle is ready.
I wait for you
to invent a perfect peace for me,

for the last of all flies to hush.

Note: This poem is based on the Jewish burial prayer ("Hashkava") which includes allusions to Psalms, the book of Samuel and other biblical texts.


Between Thunder and Lightening

"Then the Man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." Genesis, 3:8

In the beginning, whiteness struck our eyes
and blinded the foundations;
We were shocked into knowing
rushing to cover ourselves
with a shivering leaf
forgetting all
in one breath.

And hearing His voice thunder through the Garden,
in the cool of day, from far, far away,
falling on our heads from a rooftop
tearing ribs from our bodies
once again we are left
each separately dressed
in a coat of skin
and nakedness.



Little Pieces: Woman in a Cafe
for Orna Wiess*

A.
Cloudburst passes over the cafe
pouring rain on your table only.
Sun comes out in your smile
shimmering in the forks. You collect
wet words into an ashtray
asking the waitress to replace it for us,
as if she were goddess of Fate.

B.
Darkness defines itself in relation to you
a stubborn child, taunting. You hold him
to your breast, caressing him gently, explaining
that sleeping with a shirt unfilled by a body
is still better than being awake.

C.
Underneath the table, the brink of the abyss
draws itself precisely around your feet.
Strange how your face doesnt disclose
the chill; green leaves sprout in your plate,
your glass is overflowing.
You inhabit your body with determination
bolt upright, as if it were a chair you are sitting on
and not a raft on the shadowy face of Tartarus.

D.
When you get up to leave,
everywhere you step
the earth will re-arrange itself
to become solid again


* Orna's husband, Yanai Wiess, a talented musician, was killed in the bombing at "Mike's Place" on the Tel-Aviv promenade, where he was playing with a band, on April 30, 2003.



Morning by the Hilton Hotel

rom: Israeli Prose Poems

An emaciated old man is taken out into the glaring shine of a new summer morning, a white spot shivering in a black wheel chair. His hair grows thinner in the brilliant sunlight, breathing heavily, frightened, refusing the burly arms wanting to pluck him out of life and spread him across his death, rectangular and orange, a stretcher waiting by the ambulance. Across the way, over the boisterous street, Hilton water sprinklers joyfully scatter green gems on the lawn overlooking the sea, as an everyday morning dances around between dog shit and plastic bags. So heavy the tiny body, stubbornly refusing the white men tugging and pulling, losing patience, grasping hands and legs, he's twitching, almost falls, a mother and child stop to stare, passersby hurry on, mother pulls child away; So cumbersome the will to live, he's slipping again, diapers are showing through pale blue pajamas, Thai workers lower their eyes from scaffolding near by, finally the body (how many years lie here? How many open eyed mornings?) is laid on the stretcher, a paramedic huffs and puffs, Hilton towering above in grey concrete arrogance, a little white head lifts itself for a moment, the transparent bird of his eye, fluttering across the street, one last time.


Three Moments and a Scarf

for Nelly Munthe

I.
The beginning of July brings
a cool wonder blowing through your garden.
Your laughter breaks into
a thousand bubbles
sparkling in the wine you pour,
filling the cherries with plump essence.
If summer had a flavor
you gave it a name:
the sweetness of wanting to live again
on the tip of the tongue.

All that is beyond this circle of light
dentists, income-tax, the need
to remember where we left the keys -
fades into the darker corners of the garden.
We huddle around your heart
as the chill of evening formulates a question,
you answer with a scarf
the color of a long summer's day;
the sun has graciously sunk into it
lending it a reddish-orange glow.

'Keep it', you say,
draping it over my shoulders.
as if it were actually possible
to hold the beauty of this moment
in my bare hands.

II.
Navigating a short-cut to the station
through alleys that give themselves up
to my guessing in their cold, sinister way.
"You're lost, stranger", huffs the alien city,
puffing up steam from underground holes.
But the sun sets in the scarf
around my shoulders
and the pavements can feel the abandon
of wine and cherries in my gait.

In a huge apartment building
one window brightly lit
with the roundness of a little boy's face
curiously peering out into the night.
His eyes ravenously swallow a universe
of desolate streets and brilliant lights
a far-away cry, cars, stars.

His face is alive with a question
so profound it undoes
all that stands behind him:
'Mother', 'Brother', 'Bed', 'Toothbrush'
float into the shadowy gloom
engulfing the building as a dream.
Left is only a bright yellow rectangle,
a lighthouse of childish faith
beaming for human ships
lost on dark nights
on the way to the train.

III.
The glare of neon accelerates the lunacy
of the tube rushing through the night.
A three year old, maybe four,
is dancing down the aisle
his coffee skin gleaming through
a bright yellow overall.
His smile flutters on his mother's gaze,
a brown fatigue looking down on him;
Rests a moment, then flies on
twirling himself around a pole,
absentmindedly wiping grime
off soiled seats, cleansing
the day from sullen brows.

He pulls the scarf off my shoulders,
playfully wrapping himself
winding in and out,
stealing it like fire from the Gods,
penetrating the stale loneliness
of eyes staring into newspapers, books,
empty space or feet, eyes
that do their best to avoid eyes
now meet above the child's head,
wildly waving his reddish-orange flag,
his burst of life clearing a fresh path
in this under-world.


London, Summer 2004