Blesok no. 48, May-June,2006

The Book
Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden and Karen Alkalay-Gut

Asher Reich

A Proposal for a National Meditation for Beginners

It is not the forest that wanders
in the thicket of our lives
not the dust that covers
our deaths
but we
not the sea that drowns
in our veins
not the light that sinks
in all our ways
but we
not the Place that hears
our silences
not the dream that determines
our thoughts
but we

             Translated by Vivian Eden

Haifa in Winter

Haifa in winter is a Japanese woodcut.
Silken rain, the softest of rains, waits for me there,
the white moth sleeps in the damp bushes
and from the puddles a fountain of fantasies rises like a mist.
Haifa in winter floats on air with the buoyancy of clouds
and sometimes the horizon is a rice paper sail.
Then the sun-stained evening comes
like a gash in the belly of the city.

             Translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut


The heroic rooster woke me up,
crushed my sleep with the boots
of his cock-a-doodle-doo.

But I smiled as I recovered.
This very evening,
the cock will be my supper.

At night I was visited by flocks of his crows.
Sunless in me rose
his red cockscomb.
The cock and I are one.

             Translated by Vivian Eden

I And They

I am visited by a dream of those who circle
there above us taking stock of the world's assets.
I don't envy them their loneliness,
I've more than enough of that,

or even their rare privilege of seeing
all we've been spared this time around.
I don't grudge them the luck of a weightless body.
I have enough hovering of my own
and like the astronauts I too

am sometimes roped to my seat in the half-dark
and that's only half a metaphor.
Everyone who deals with art for its own sake
in a real way, not to say genuine,
learns quickly enough to live with his loneliness
and the wonders of his hoverings in the dark.

Nonetheless, every day, like, for example
this prosaic morning when the sun is seen
to open her legs generously
and I am granted a new sunrise,
my daily jealousy is immediately aroused
of those circling above me who are granted
more than one sunrise, day by day.

             Translated by Vivian Eden

Days Walk among Us Like Spies

The earth sings the chronicles of our lives.
In this land days walk among us
like spies. Night puddles
where the rain is absorbed in firefly glimmers.
The wind is a coop of clucking chickens.
The song of the earth feeds itself on blood sounds.
The rustling of trees, the susurration of grass like ancient lyrics.

For days I listened to the sounds of the earth
trying to decipher its language
in renewing Nature, its wintry anger
that always defeats us
even indoors.

For days I was trapped wondering what rustles
in its damp and swelling belly
when it sheds its skin like a snake
and dons new skin.
I stripped naked to the sounds of words
to recount events to myself.

             Translated by Vivian Eden

Words to a Picture

This is my beloved,
the one on the right is
her brother who fell in the Lebanon war.

The one on the left is
her last lover
before I came
into the picture.

She is hugging them hard
as if she knew she would lose them both.
From the side, her mother regards them.
Her face looks like a browned cake
that time baked on too high a flame.

             Translated by Vivian Eden

The Book

When I moved recently, I suddenly found
my forgotten Bible:

A Bar-Mitzvah present, the only thing
I took with me when I deserted the home of my youth
for forty years in the desert.

I leafed through the book: some pages stuck together
as in a classified secret. Cain, of course, is still murdering his brother.
For every murder, two other brothers sprout up in the field.
Goliath takes off his armor and goes out to lunch

From his eternal battle with the little Israelite.
The Philistine's head is already adorned with rubber bullets
like kinky curls. The first astronaut.
Elijah shoots up in a storm to heaven in a regular launch.
Locally made UFO's sail in the skies of Ezekiel.

I continue skimming: the pages had already blackened with blood,
gory wars that continue on their own.
Only the sins remain like white stains, prophets
disappear from the book to prophesize far away. Kings
escaped to the Diaspora. Angels flew back to the caves of the firmament.
From his couch, God sadly ascended and turned out our light.

             Translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut

Our Blood Is the World's Petrol

The day passes. We've gained some time.
Our days pass by in trash dreams.
Once I knew a boy
who waited for his life
and found his death.
His death
was a warning shot to me.

A dozing generation that awaits a miracle.
Waits in vain to the ends of its strength.
Wait. Maybe somewhere
in the ground of the seventh heaven
the best of our pilots
will discover cosmic oil
our blood is the world's petrol.

             Translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut


The universe has vanished. Only the sun
still remains. In silence
it wakes the emptiness.
Thus Mr. Silberman dreamt 1944.

An undestroyed past pieced with patches
of forty two years,
after a life-day in the Shoah* film.
That night the dream returned—

Water came back to life in a cloud
and fire in ash again revived.
Unfinished death
wrapped him like a wounded coat.
He woke mid-nightmare.

And with confident clarity, slowly put on
his Treblinka clothes, shaved with care,
made his bed, opened the gas, and
peaceful and sure went back to bed.

*Shoah = Holocaust

             Translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut


Still night. I am still bound
to the XXII letters

as it fettered. Only thickened silence like this
can light me a single word
gleaming in its many sounds.

I see it down to the bone,
to the end of the root.
It suddenly doubles.
It is now two.

My voice's one ear
hears night's shadows
creeping along Hebrew grammar.
Before me on the page, three words.
In a moment there will be more.

Now the blue scent of moon
can be seen through them. Thus was I made
aware of the dark's inaudible
pain. Sun of the night. The words glow.
Now you emerge from your sleep to me
and come into the poem.

             Translated by Vivian Eden

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