Four New Poems, by Elisha Porat, translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner.
Elisha Porat in a photo by Reuven Schwartz.
A New Era
In the neighborhood of Nachliel, high
on the steep limestone hill,
I hear my father fighting
with my mother, in their small shack:
"Too bad you are not Yemenite," he
screams, frantic with anger,
"Yemenite women know how to treat a man."
Is it because of him that I am consumed by longing
for a Yemenite girl I saw in my youth
crossing the small colony of Hadera?
My thousand-year Polish exile, heavy
and uncomfortable around my neck,
I would cast off at her dark feet:
run after her to "Kibbutzim hill"
and lay down her passion in the courtyard
of my young parents' misery.
And start everything all over with her:
all of it, from the very beginning.
This prickly rush, with whose spines
I stitched my tattered youth;
this weeping willow, played
by the wind on my secret ramblings;
this purple loosestrife, whose
pink flowers I placed on
a table for my love; they all
call to me along the path: Come,
join us, come, fade
with us into the moist morning mist.
"Don't wait for me," I
call out to them from my groaning memory,
"I am on my way, I'll be there
soon." And on my return from the stream bank
I know: They will wait,
I will come, my aging heart
is already there, with them, anticipating
me always by a few steps.
"So, have you seen it?" asked the journalist
on the phone. "Not yet," I reply.
"It doesn't matter, read it now. I just love
the way the press can hit so hard."
And I, who have written tens of thousands
of superfluous words, have never even once
succeeded in throwing a punch,
and I haven't seen the arms
of a single reader raised
against me in self-defense.
Elisha Porat, the 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published nineteen volumes of fiction and poetry, in Hebrew, since 1973. His works have appeared in translation in Israel, the United States, Canada, and England.
His stories, translated from the Hebrew by Alan Sacks, can be seen in previous issues of Offcourse: "Family Language" and "Long Haul" in the Fall 99 issue, "A Bullet Fired" in the Summer 2000 issue, and "A Spit in the Face" in our December 2000 issue.
His poems have appeared in Offcourse #17 Summer 03 issue and in Offcourse #20, Summer04 (translation by E. Levenson.)
Poems translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner, appeared in Offcourse #24, Fall 2005.
Two Poems and a story, "The Jerusalem Syndrome" appeared in Offcourse #28, Fall 2006.
Here are reviews of his collection, "The Messiah of LaGuardia".
The following URL contain references to his work and the work of Alan Sacks, one of Porat's translators.
Growing Old, a new poems ebook, at www.SynergEbooks.com
Cindy Eisner, the translator of these poems, was born and raised in the U.S. and has lived in Israel since 1980. She is a computer scientist by training, and is a Research Staff Member at the IBM Haifa Research Laboratory in Haifa, Israel. Translating Elisha's poetry is her new hobby.
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