Thursday, November 11, 2010

Places Beyond Words

Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Leah Goldberg

My life is engraved on my poems
as rings show the age of a tree,
as my years are the wrinkles of my forehead.


I have no bitter words
to release my delusions—
My images are clear as stained-glass windows;
Through them
one can see
How light in the sky is changing,
and how my love fell
like a dead bird.


It is simple:
There was snow in one country
and thorns in another;
And a star in the window of an airplane
at night,
from above the many lands.


And they came to me,
commanded me to sing,
and they said: We are words,
I surrendered;
I sang them.
And yet there was a bridge between them
with lamps on the other side.
The man did not approach,
so I said he never came.


The hours of humiliation,
hours of grandeur
hours of pain;
They are not necessary,
For there stands an ancient covenant
between myself and the silence—
And there is a road to buried dreams
from a place beyond words. 


—Leah Goldberg


My room is so small
that the days sneak in, humiliated.
I, too, live that way,
in the smell of smoke and apples.
At night the neighbors turn on lights
on the other side of the yard.
They shine quietly
through the branches of the tall birch,
through the windows facing me.
At night sometimes it is difficult to remember
that once
there was my own window


These have been weeks when no one
calls me by name, and this is very simple:
The parrot in the kitchen of my house
has not yet learned it.
People the breadth of the city
don't know it.
It has no voice, no sound or note.
Days, I go without a name
in the street whose name I know.
I sit for hours without a name
before the tree whose name I know.
Sometimes I think without a name
of him whose name I don't know.


—Leah Goldberg

Our backs are to the cypress.
We are hiding the mountains behind our houses.
We are ashamed to see the star.
We hurry to the commotion of the streets
so that our hearts won't be confused
by open spaces.

And so we live
in closed rooms,
in streets belted by telephone and telegraph wires.
It is so far from all that we loved innocently.
On the other side of ourselves, we live
in our times.


Today's LittleNip:

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.

—Jennette Rankin


—Medusa, with thanks to everyone who turned out last night for the inauguration of The Ophidian. Bravo to the readers, too! Be sure to scroll down on our b-board and click on the SNAKE SWALLOWING HIS TAIL to see what all the fuss is about. Next deadline, for O2, will be March 1.

(Today's poems were translated from the Hebrew by Ramah Commanday.)

Apple Hill souvenirs
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis