Illustration: Somnath Bhatt.

I am your abyss, your ash and your hell,
I am your very last glance, may you recognize it.

I am your last spark, to which I bid farewell
and with it I wish to kindle a rainfall.

I am your first love’s heir,
the green jealousy of your lovers.

I am a diary. You dance within its pages,
a demon claps out from the storm: Divine!

Your breath is my bread and I – a knife,
such bread belongs only to me, the one who consumes it.

I am a crimson hospital at twilight
where your eyelashes still quiver inside.

I am a woodpecker in a forest of stars,
I peck out from my own self my tears.

I am your young death. And here I am found:
In me is your skeleton. I carry it within.

Abraham Sutzkever

Abraham Sutzkever, born in 1913 in modern-day Belarus, was a legendary figure of the Yiddish literary world. A survivor of the Vilna Ghetto, he immigrated to Mandatory Palestine just before the founding of the State of Israel, and passed away in Tel Aviv in 2010 at the age of 96. The poem included here is taken from his 1985 collection Poems from My Diary.

Maia Evrona

Maia Evrona’s poems, as well as excerpts from her memoir on chronic illness, have appeared in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award for her own poetry, and a fellowship from the NEA for her translations of Abraham Sutzkever. Her poetry has also been published in her own English-to-Yiddish translation by the Yiddish Book Center.