Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

Three Poems, by Elisha Porat.
Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

A Tourist, Passing Time.

to Tikva and Amos Efroni.

"Pardes Huri" was uprooted long ago
the communications channel bordering it
has been covered for years.  And in the ruins of
the hill that was then called "Tlel"
rain, wind and war have erased
the impression made by a
crooked old steel pole
against which I leaned, exhausted,
to doze in the intervals between shellings.

"A tourist, passing time", I say
to the beautiful proprietress and
so sign in her guest book.  My fingers
betray me and my heart is burning,
and once again I am seized by that
forgotten tremor, in the ambush that revealed
itself, under the thicket, between
the columns of the bridge forever seared
into my memory.  I erase and correct my entry:
"A tourist, whose time is passing."  And as she
secretly watches I am baptized
once again:  in a scalding baptismal
font, filled with the sweat of paralyzing
fear, immersed in the memory
of my first baptism by fire.


The Andalusian Ideal of Beauty

One:  here is a palm tree, green, tall,
a provider of shade.  Two:  here is a lemon tree,
sweet smelling, wild, heavy with white flowers.
Three:  and here we have the red rose.  Which is the blood
that nests in the garden, above the flowing creek.
On its thorns even the hardest hearts
are caught and sliced in two, the better to nourish
the twin soils:  which are the warm golden
soft silk that rests above a silvery
hillside.  Dark and damp, a leafy threesome. 
Here is a final sum:  in which is included an erect
palm, the lemony scent pouring like juice,
and the thick thorny blood of the rose running
into the culvert, washed in the heat of the afternoon, then
clotting, soaking the dusk, to percolate slowly up the wall.


"Ibid", "ibid", and again "ibid".
In my youth I was sent to
the footnotes buried deep in obscure tomes.
But I found no destination
there, beneath the papers
among which I squandered my days.
Today I am no longer surprised:
I know that there is no destination
that will divert me from the dark pit
that awaits me in the end.  My last "ibid"
has been placed:  it awaits me
there, at the end of the race.

Elisha Porat says: Yes, it's a long long way from my small kibbutz, at the burning mideast - to the peaceful and cool of upstate New York. And thanks to the magic bridges of the poems - yes, the poems - the whole long long way becomes a short flesh of inspiration, touching and moving. Some time I am myself going to forget that the original poems were written in the Hebrew language...

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.

Elisha Porat, the 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize forLiterature, 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.)

Here are reviews of his collection, "The Messiah of LaGuardia".

The following URL contain references to his work and the work of Alan Sacks, the translator of the stories.
Growing Old, a new poems ebook, at


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