HOW I DECEIVED LOVE
When it invited me to the table,
“oh wine, wine,” I called in front of the water cup.
The letters it placed on my plate
I swallowed backwards, its flesh and blood.
And to prove my faith
I drank it all down.
When I died, surprised I told it,
“I fulfilled all of your conditions
even beyond my capacity,
you are the one who could bring me back to life, and inexpensively.”
Love withdrew, and said “fool,
you should have called the wine water,
wear the letters on your sleeve
and as for the poison’s libation, tell me, do you not know what a game is?”
Give them an egg
give them a pillow, a chair
give them affection, respect, give.
To those who fell into the hunger
it starts there somewhere in the dark
without when or now
it’s there that the drowned palm reaches out.
From whence do you have,
in the knowledge behind your back
like a fox in its lair,
the apple’s core,
the pirates in the treasure cave
everything that is a metaphor hands
a cartoon bone to the dog
again and again, whether if you are the fox or a stork
a metaphor again, we did conclude that every metaphor is a lie,
the hunger seeks out the tangible.
The question that is the answer was always my problem,
go make an omelet out of mathematics, out of algebra,
go make yourself a life out of a simile.
Yesterday at dinner twenty-five dishes were served to me
and more, a dish every year
just to prove me that I have been to this restaurant:
Motherhood, marriage, love, books, the seasons of the year
swallowed up and erased. I’m afraid to say, I think
I have eaten life, remind me of love my beloved,
remind me of the miracle of life, remind me of the language to admit
that the pit is just an inverted plateau.
I bound myself to the figure seven.
When the day is already dressed in a coat and hat, not
Everyone needs to know the nude of
Night, not everyone needs to know the figure
One. For instance, I cut through the now
With scissors, binding myself to the weight of
Flight and sail toward the door
Like a frigate futilely rowing toward
The self, the island fortified away from sense
IT IS THE DESERT THAT PASSES THROUGH ME
Is it the desert that passes through me
or am I the desert?
What is it that doesn’t pour rain within me?
To light up the clouds’ fire,
the pelican’s transitions from one continent to another
flapping the enormity of their wings
to dampen the sea’s leaves,
the deer’s shouts of courtship
polishes the blood
cells, the love that drowned and I have to save
its head forcefully.
The gates will creak when they are opened in the sand.
To loosen thousand silver threads,
that are wrapped around a chrysalis,
to save the shape of the possible.
—translated from Hebrew by Gili Haimovich
Nurit Zarchi is one of Israel’s leading authors and has published more than a hundred books in almost every genre: novels, short stories, poetry, collections of essays and children’s literature. She has received an array of prizes that include every major Israeli literary award from poetry to children’s literature including the Prime Minister’s Prize twice (1980, 1991), the Ze’ev Prize (five times), four IBBY Honor Citations (1980, 1984, 1998, 2004), the Education Minister’s Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2005) and the Devorah Omer Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2014), the Arik Einstein Prize (2015) and the Israel Center for Educational Innovation Award for Lifetime Achievement (2016). Her work has been widely translated and her poems translated into English by Gili Haimovich have been published in variety of journals such as Nimrod Journal, Lunch Ticket, Poem – International English Language Quarterly, Voice & Verse and more.
Gili Haimovich is a translator and author in both Hebrew and English. She has published six volumes of poetry in Hebrew and two collections in English, Sideways Roots (Kimchi Press, 2017) and Living on a Blank Page (Ice Floe, 2007); her forthcoming volume of poetry in English, Promised Lands, will come out this year (Finishing Line). Her poetry and translations appear in numerous worldwide journals and anthologies such as World Literature Today, Poetry International, International Poetry Review, Asymptote, Nimrod Journal, Poem Magazine, LRC – Literary Review of Canada, Drain and Launch Ticket as well as Israeli ones. She was awarded the best foreign author prize of the Ossia di Sepia International Poetry Competition in Italy, 2019, and granted as an outstanding artist by the Ministry of Culture in Israel, 201, among other prizes and nominations.
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