The Well

I am a poisoned well,
I told the ram
as he flared his nostrils.
Everything in me is poisoned.
Venom flows in my stones.

On the bottom
there’s a bag, almost sealed.
In it, silently putrefying,
are the clothes of the dead.

Far away, in day’s splendor, even the storks
warn each other
of the pollution.

But the well is poisoned,
I whisper to the ram at night,
the well is entirely poisoned.

And he with his blue tongue licks me
and says: Stars.



When I woke after the destruction
the boulders were the gray-white dust of salt,
and salt-dogs cracked open the bones of doves.
Then I saw one hidden chick
thrown into the air,
its wings trembling like wind-blown flames
unfurling a colorful fan,
its skinny legs lifting for the first time
above the Dead Sea.


Hamutal Bar-Yosef was born in Kibbutz Tel Yosef in 1940. She is the author of nine collections of poetry and has received the ACUM Prize (1987), the President`s Prize (2002), and the Brenner Prize (2005). These translations are from Night, Morning forthcoming from Sheep Meadow Press.

Rachel Tzvia Back is a poet, translator, and professor, born in the United States and now living in Israel. Her poetry collections include Azimuth (Sheep Meadow Press), The Buffalo Poems (Duration Press), and On Ruins & Return: Poems 1999-2005 (Shearsman Books).

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