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Near the Poet's House

Near the poet’s house
A boy is crying at the juncture
His mother darts out into the traffic to retrieve
The ball that rolled away
“This ball is the best!” he hugs it close
Still sniffling

If the poet were alive he’d have
Something wise to say about loss, about solace
And the stones of Jerusalem and her inhabitants
But on the path that winds uphill
The mourners’ stone and the radiance of winter are all that is left
To reflect his image along the lanes, stone-rough, word-gentle, in a game
Of hide and seek between the living and the dead of the eternal city

For how shall we not hear Winter Winter when all is radiant again
How will the days go by in her eternity
How will our flesh be buried alive on the slopes of Jerusalem
And yet it is the stories on our lips,
The Songs of Ascent we sing that
Raise her towers
The human monuments we fashion with a mouth-
Full of air to fecundate the field of blood and consolation

Today the Vale of Hinnom holds the radiant morn of Edom
Like the ball that rolled away
Like the sudden burgeoning of hope, Winter Winter
A crocus frilled in crimson
Sprouting up with all its gentle might,
No stem or foliage,
Right from the ground

 

* Near the house of the poet, Yehuda Amichai, Shabbat, November 15, 2003

Michal Govrin, from: And So Said Jerusalem, Poems and Hymns
Translated from the Hebrew by: Betsy Rosenberg
*Translation sponsored by the "Museum On The seam", Jerusalem

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