Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Elisha Porat

To Die at the Springs of El-Hamma

Down into the fichus boulevards at the springs of El-Hamma
come the starlings, trembling then landing.
The water is hot at the springs of El-Hamma,
Yet night is more hostile than day.
Layers of sand on those who landed before:
Layers of sand cover their faces,
The water is dead at the springs of El-Hamma.
From great distances come the starlings
Beating to these death-ponds: always they come.
Who sends these birds to end
In the booby-trapped springs of El-Hamma?
They fly so urgently, with no chance or time,
No time for life and no chance to learn
If someone expects their return.
The starlings are flying in to die in the seducer
Springs of El-Hamma, poisoned by the salt.
Fowl can’t stop the soldiers, for their faces
Are pointed into the earth. Oh, how easy it is
To finish as a starling, and not as a soldier.
Translated from the Hebrew by the author and Ward Kelley

Bloody Aquifer

In this late spring, in the time before
the first summer fruits, I cruise
the roadways idly.
My mortal eye sees:
stalks of withered hollyhock and clusters of
dill, among the blossoming vegetables.
But with my other eye I
see in your deep basins,
Oh my beloved ravaged land,
blood gathering and draining: from under
the scorching subsoil, your bloodyground
water surfaces, rises and floods.

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

My Poems Are Wrapped In Darkness

Like a migrant Thai worker I pedal
my bicycle on the village path. Hunched over, dark,
my face covered against the dust. The dogs bark at me,
the bees slam into my forehead, and the scent
of a distant homeland assaults my nostrils.
And like his letters home, silverplating
the sweat of his brow, my poems too are wrapped
with the darkness that covers the land of my longing.

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

A Small Addendum
To Eilon Cohen

An amateur pilot and a devoted Darwinist crouches
cramped among the controls of a "flying motorcycle":
fashioning on one knee an astonishing late
addendum to a treatise by Charles Darwin
on a fundamental point of evolution.
His hands, quivering from tension and from inspiration,
smooth the folds of a navigation map
and on its reverse he inscribes, tearing the paper:
Not to the survivors among us is the glory,
but rather to those visionaries
who are loaded like a missile to be shot
far from our filthy planet.
To be shot to a new "nova",
arriving forcefully on the ground, to create
it all anew. Without looking back,
without longing, and certainly without
useless writers of poetry.

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner


They waited for him to come home:
the trimmed lawn, the tree in its saucer,
the faded plastic chairs, the rusty
gate, creaking on its hinges.
Mother, brother, father, sister,
frozen in time: wilting, transparent,
bowed down with weight of days.
And then, when suddenly he comes in,
everything begins to move, the lawn thickens,
the tree bears fruit, the plastic
chairs are scrubbed, the gate turns
and creaks, moving endlessly.
If only he would come in, come home.
The bubble of time bursts. The scarred heart
beats again. Slowly they go down
on their knees, lift their eyes
to him in grief, in gratitude.

Translated from the Hebrew by Eddie Levenston

-all poems taken from his “War Poetry” series

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