Two Poems: "When God Said for the First Time" & "Against Parting"
When God Said for the First Time

When God said, for the first time: Let there be light -
His intention was to rid Himself of the Dark.
He wasn't thinking at that moment of the sky,
but already the waters began filling the trees
and the birds took shape, and the air, to fly.
Then the first Wind blew into the eyes of Our Lord
and he saw it with the Eyes of the Cloud of His Glory,
and thought: It is good. He didn't think then
that the children of Adam would
ever become a multitude.
But they already began to think of themselves without fig leaves,
and in their hearts already they were thinking of a way
to cause what pain they could.
When Our Lord at first thought of the Night
He did not think of Sleep.
It was just: I'll be happy this way - that`s what the good
Lord thought. But already they were a multitude.

Translated by Sholom J. Kahn

Against Parting

My tailor is against parting.
That's why, he
said, he's not going away;
he doesn't want to part
from his one daughter. He's definitely
against parting.

Once, he parted from his wife, and
she he
saw no more of (Auschwitz).
from his three sisters and
these he never
saw (Buchenwald).
He once parted from his mother (his father
died of a fine and ripe age). Now
he's against parting.

In Berlin he
was my father's kith and kin. They passed
a good time in
that Berlin. The time's passed. Now
he'll never leave. He's
most definitely
(my father's died)
against parting.

Translated by Jon Silkin

From New Writing from Israel, edited by Jacob Sonntag. London: Corgi Books, 1976, in conjunction with the Jewish Quarterly.