How deep pain breaks,
as the feet simply step on the hard ground of the lane.
On both sides of the street, buildings,
and in them all the people still alive,
rewarded for having loved no more
than being loved, no less.
This is sanity—when love comes—
to offer a bed, a chair,
sustain and raise it like a pet
(a lion—or a cockatoo).
Treetops are smothered, sparrows return to their nests.
Is true love measured by the small coin of anguish,
or is it the one which has adhered to the floor, the walls.
In my house, the floor and walls are made of floor and walls.
Only in my presence do they reveal what they can turn into a void.
Except for a few plants, and half-scribbled notes,
I grow only stone.
Day and night it tells me:
Be a floor, walls, don’t disclose more
than crows in their puzzling cries.
This time you’ll love intelligently,
from this place, no, from that one.
Lock your mouth, your head, the nerve centers.
Lock the vision, the hope, be sane, be a stone.
[translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller]
Nurit Zarhi has published seven volumes of poetry and received every major Israeli award, including The Prime Minister Award. She lives in Tel Aviv.
Tsipi Keller is a translator and the author, most recently, of the novel Jackpot (Spuyten Duyvil, 2004).