And Her Husband Said: Buchenwald

They took Mrs. Klara in a sheet from the second floor
to the ambulance.
What illness did she die of, we asked, before the rumor
that she hanged herself in the bathroom,
and her husband said: Buchenwald.
Until then we had heard of whooping-cough or angina
and we had scars from the chicken-pox vaccination.
The day before she had found a snake in the yard and the policeman from Sun-city (Ir Shemesh) street 30 had a pistol
and the snake had the body of a juggler.
Later, when the bullets were finished we crushed its head with a stone.

From Panther, Poems, 1989

Jasmin. A Poem on Sandpaper

Fairuz lifts her lips towards the skies
for jasmin to fall from above
on those who once met and did not know they were in love.
I hear her in Muhammad's Fiat
at midday-Ibn-Gabirol street.
A Lebanese singer sings in the Italian car
of an Arab poet from Baq'a al-Gharbia
on a street named for a Hebrew poet who lived in Spain.
And the jasmin?
If it falls from the skies of the end of the days
for a moment
the light
will be green
at the next crossroad.

From Panther, Poems, 1989

The First Law of the Jungle. A Missing in Action Poem

The first law of the jungle is that there are no laws.
We never knew each other, but the first words father brought from the
Hebrew class
Were "the site of his grave unknown", and he spread them as lines of fire
along his life and yours.
Somebody told you had been seen, dimly,
at the Meteorological Institute of Bet-Dagan
and he returned at night, carrying your name
as a potato sack.
The knife which should have cut through the peel of longing rested in the drawer,
whetted by phantasies in which I snatched you from the teeth of lions.
I was four years old, and even the fire tongues of the paraffin stove
had dragon's jaws.

From Bloody Mary, Poems, 1994

Baghdad, February 91

On these bombarded streets was my baby stroller pushed.
Babel's lasses pinched my cheeks and waved palm leaves
above the blond fluff of my hair,
Whatever is left since then has turned very black,
like Baghdad
and like the baby stroller we cleared away from the shelter
in the days of anticipation for another war.
Oh Tigris, of Euphrates pampering snakes in the first map of my life,
how did you shed skins and turn into vipers.

From Bloody Mary, Poems, 1994

Translated from Hebrew by Galit Hasan-Rokem and Dan Leon

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