A few poems from “Blood Red Strawberries”, translated by Naama Sheffer.
A journey of fascinating, exploratory and exquisite poems of the highest caliber.
Yaara Ben David’s poetry speaks with an elegant tongue – it is bound with simplicity as it exposes the complexities of daily life.
It winds around the intimate places and extends to the collective.
Returning from Here
The remains of the plane piloted by Saint-Exupéry
were positively identified.
Draw me a sheep, he asked again,
I shall keep what is hidden from sight
under a glass bell
not on the lapel.
Draw me a sheep so I can slip away again
to between the pages of my book for ever more,
as if between my white bed sheets –
He said and vanished
like a broken vessel hastily cleared
from the public domain.
In a mischievous game, I still ponder how
to bring him back to me
like light from a broken piece of mirror.
Forty days later
I would like to have been the dove
from the ark
sent off to olive-branch distances
never to return again –
Her difficulty was in coming back
not because she lost her way or was ungrateful,
but because the moment her foot touched the earth
the dove became a bird transfigured,
nameless in the hidden clefts of the rocks.
She was a dove-bird refusing to see
what was expected of her,
since in the new world outside
a green leaf is no more than a sign of limited time
like the one that drowned before it –
A woman split, exposed like the barkless spots
in the tree of knowledge
and the tree of life
singing with a thirst to disappear.
If only he had spoken another word to her
the world’s din would have kept on flowing.
When her voice slipped with the carelessness
of a scarf, she brought out a secondhand dress
from a different Genesis
to cover the nakedness of her flesh.
A secondhand dress to take out and throw
take out and throw –
that once was an amulet for love.
All that time I was busy
searching for the fitting pseudonym,
through which I shall slip like a thread
in the eye of a needle.
I must find time for myself
even as I must find myself
in time. What I see from the corner of my eye
does not necessarily exist.
Everything flows – an ancient proverb
sits within me, silent.
What will come is what will truly be.
The Time of Chocolate Squares
I recognize my mother’s handwriting
in the address book and in the old letters,
and that time, the time of squares of chocolate
under the tongue,
like words that were once thrown into the space
of the room and were never taken back.
At last, at the end of times,
a man emerged from between parked cars
to meet eyes whose warmth was a shot
bird. There I commanded the world to stop.
And it stopped and rolled back to the beginning.
On nerve-tips a violin bow slipped
from a body
to a body.
Something rotted in me and ripened to be said.
He who knew love from the roots of his hair
comes, slices body-bread, stripping a gown of skin,
not comprehending how it is that he
and I are two syllables in a word.
The span of time depends on the birds
comfortable along the high-voltage power lines.
And with a coo-filled flap of wings they patter
the roof of my house
as if returning to a lost kingdom
where I paint a window and leave
empty space before it
and empty space behind it
to make room for them
where perspective allows to see
what I cannot see with the eyes of the flesh.
Used books on the sidewalk
like a stubborn being –
they do not come from nowhere.
A wind leaned in to leaf through the pages,
a dog stopped, licking. Someone touched
smelled caressed wove a passing thought folded a corner,
Books. A fortiori people.
In any case books
always return in the opposite direction
like from a funeral march, minus one.
Forth Poem from Cycle “The Refugee”
A refugee and his moving shadow.
A trailing trace of smoke
from a weeping land has remained stuck in the flax stalks
in his clothes in his hair in his hammered breath in the cold air.
His face – flaming flowers. The pads of his feet a gray wolf.
A fleeing mountains’ shadow, and after that the deluge.
By the fences, a sliced man
will retrace his steps no more
The following are other poems by Yaara Ben-David, exclusively published here for the first time in English.
One man passes by
another, showing his regular colors
Sometimes his body is rigid,
sometimes his voice is weak
I am a one-man terrorist band
said the assailant of the Pope.
At a time like this
(a poor heat conductor)
listening to news summaries
reduced to the minimum
in this land of untouchable objects.
Translated By Rochelle Mass
From the book “Night Dialing”, Eked 1982
They think I’m not
but I very much am
clear as can be
me, nothing me and my shadow
the flickering question mark
me, flesh me and my wilderness
me and my dimming shadow Other
my two arms like a rope ladder
unfolding on my left and my right
to embrace my back
because from myself I came and to myself return